CDC: Alzheimer's cases in Tenn. jumped 113 percent in 15 years

May 30, 2017

Average annual age-adjusted death rates from Alzheimer’s disease per 100,000 population, by county — United States, 2005–2014

MUFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The number of Tennesseans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease has more than doubled in the last 15 years. The finding comes from a study just released by the Centers for Disease Control.

In addition to Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota and Louisiana have all seen the incidence of Alzheimer’s jump more than 100 percent since 1999. Contrast that with Maine, Maryland and Montana where rates actually declined.

Janice Wade-Whitehead is the CEO of the non-profit Alzheimer Tennessee. She says the dramatic rise in the number of Alzheimer’s cases in Tennessee can be attributed in part to the fact that the state’s low taxes and warm winters attract a lot of seniors who move here in retirement. She also says Tennesseans aren’t as health conscious as they should be.

“Heart disease, diabetes certainly is an increased risk factor, strokes, smoking, lack of exercise, not getting the anti-oxidants from your diet that’s provided in fruits and vegetables.”

A statistic you may find even more startling: Wade-Whitehead says seven out of ten Alzheimer’s patients are being cared for at home. In the latter stages of the disease, that means round-the-clock attention, putting a tremendous strain on care-givers. She says it’s important to remember you’re not alone.

“Families should never lose hope. The journey should not be one of isolation. It should be one that you have the support of your community, of your family, and friends and organization’s like Alzheimer’s Tennessee… Until there’s a cure, there’s care.”

You can review the complete CDC study online. Use the link below to listen to the full interview with Alzheimer's Tennessee CEO Janice Wade-Whitehead.