Dementia in the USA: state variation in prevalence

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Abstract

Background

The number of dementia patients will increase over the next decades. However, we lack information on the geographic distribution of these patients. We aimed to describe the variation of dementia prevalence and to then compare the observed to expected prevalence.

Methods

This study is based on a 20% sample of Medicare beneficiaries in 2008. The crude dementia prevalence was calculated and age/sex standardized to the US population for states. We used the World Alzheimer Report 2009 prevalence to compare estimates.

Results

4.8 million persons were included. The adjusted prevalence is 8.24%, varying from 5.96 to 9.55% across states. The diagnosed prevalence is lower than the expected in most states. Overall, we estimate over 100 000 undiagnosed dementia patients in Medicare.

Conclusions

The high state variation suggests that the number of diagnosed dementia cases does not fall evenly across all states and hence may require different levels of state-level planning.

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