May 28, 2013

Alzheimer's Association: New data confirms dementia epidemic

Submitted by the Alzheimer's Association, Georgia Chapter

ATLANTA — The findings of the Cognitive Module in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) confirm the growing prevalence of cognitive decline and future implications of an aging America — and underscore the need for individuals to talk to their doctors about memory problems. This is the first data ever released through the BRFSS on cognitive decline and its impact.

The BRFSS, which is the world's largest telephone survey, tracks health risks in the United States and has been conducted in Georgia for 30 years on medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. 2011 is the first time that the Cognitive Module has been conducted in Georgia, and was done through a cooperative effort between the CDC, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Alzheimer's Association.

The findings of the Cognitive Module are significant.

According to survey results of 21 states, nearly 13 percent of Americans aged 60 years or older (1 in 8) reported confusion or memory loss happening more often or getting worse in the previous 12 months. Of these individuals, one-third reported that confusion or memory loss interfered with their work, social activities or ability to do household chores. In Georgia, 14.3 percent of respondents 60 aged years or older (1 in 7) reported increased confusion or memory loss, and 25 percent reported that it interfered with their daily life. Despite the known benefits of early detection, 80 percent of individuals with increased memory problems across the nation have not discussed their symptoms with a health care provider.

While there are not currently treatments available to slow or stop the progression of the disease, early detections allow people to get the maximum benefit from available treatments, consider participating in a clinical trial, establish a support network and plan for the future. Additionally, studies have shown that the ability to educate oneself and plan for the future is a tremendous asset in anticipating challenges and reducing anxiety, depression and stress — and improves quality of care by allowing for better management of other chronic conditions.

There are 120,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and 495,000 unpaid caregivers in Georgia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures. Alzheimer’s Association chapters nationwide facilitate more than 4,500 support groups and conduct 20,000 education programs annually. The Alzheimer’s Association provides consultation to 250,000 people in need each year through its toll-free 24/7 Helpline (800) 272-3900. The only one of its kind, the Helpline is staffed by master's-level counselors and provides information and guidance in more than 170 languages and dialects.

Knowing the Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s is critical to early detection and receiving the best care possible. To learn the 10 Warning Signs, visit

About the Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit or call (800) 272-3900.