The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease has been broken down by county for the first time — and a Maryland locality ranks among the top five in the nation.
Just over 16% of residents age 65 and older living in Prince George’s County are estimated to have Alzheimer’s, according to a report released Monday by the Alzheimer’s Association. The Maryland country places fourth in the country for highest prevalence of the disease.
The new data “can help us in a lot of ways, it can help us to raise awareness in those communities, and at the Alzheimer’s Association, we are all about helping people live with this disease,” said Sheila Griffith, interim vice president of programs and services for the National Capital Area Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Miami-Dade County in Florida came in as No. 1, followed by Baltimore City in Maryland in second, and Bronx County, New York in third. Those three counties each had an estimated 16.6% of their population with Alzheimer’s, while Prince George’s County had 16.1%.
The report said a combination of demographics may explain the higher rate, including at-risk populations such as a higher prevalence of older Black and Hispanic residents. The data took into account all people over 65, regardless of an abundance of care facilities in the area.
“When somebody is having some memory loss or memory issues, all you have to do is go to the doctor, talk about it and let them know,” Griffith said.
She said that while she hopes that there is a cure some day, this research helps her organization know where the people that need help the most are living.
“We need to help people who are living with the diagnosis, as well as their caregivers to really live with this disease and manage it as best they can,” Griffith said.
When it comes to risk, age is a primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older white individuals. Older Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older white patients.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.