An aging population
Age is a risk factor for cognitive decline. In 2004, one in every eight Americans—36.3 million—were aged 65 years or older. By 2030, this number is expected to nearly double to 71.5 million. At that time, 20 percent of the population will be in this age group.
Growing fear and concern about memory loss
There is considerable concern among Americans about the loss of cognitive health to disease or disability, a concern that seems to increase with age. Most older adults look forward to having a long life and yet their greatest worries about living to age 75 revolve around memory loss. According to a recent survey, adults are more than twice as likely to fear losing their mental capacity (62 percent) as their physical ability (29 percent).
Increasing burden from cognitive decline
In the United States, the societal burden of cognitive impairment has been expressed mainly in terms of prevalence, incidence, and mortality for dementia generally or for Alzheimer’s disease in particular. More recently, prevalence statistics for “mild cognitive impairment” or “cognitive impairment no dementia” have also appeared. Cognitive impairment no dementia refers to a level of cognitive impairment that is more serious than age-related cognitive impairment, but it is not as severe as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alzheimer’s Association. The Healthy Brain Initiative: A National Public Health Road Map to Maintaining Cognitive Health: Chicago, IL: Alzheimer’s Association; 2007