Nothing is more frightening than the thought of losing one’s mental capacity or cognition. Early onset Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, once thought of in relation to aging, are now occurring at an alarming rate in the “young”. In 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the nation’s leading health insurance provider who covers 1 in 3 American’s health insurance, published a stunning report. The report centered on the massive rise in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in their insured population. The report was published in February 2020, just as all the news of the COVID pandemic was beginning. Reasonably, many were unaware of such startling findings.
The report’s findings are extremely alarming and should concern everyone reading this article. Before we get to the findings, it is critically important to understand more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is estimated that 80% of those diagnosed with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is a general term used to describe loss of memory, reasoning or other thinking skills. Alzheimer’s most common early symptom is trouble remembering new information, as the disease typically first impacts the part of the brain associated with learning. The gold standard for diagnosing Alzheimer’s occurs on autopsy (lesson here don’t wait on your diagnosis). Additionally and more concerning, is there are zero drug cures for this condition, making it a horrific disease and diagnosis. Currently, over 5 million Americans living are with Alzheimer’s disease. This figure is expected to explode to over 20 million in the next 30 years. Epidemiologists are forecasting a complete bankruptcy of our health care system if we do not begin to take action on this once termed “Silver Tsunami” before it hits the shores of our healthcare delivery system.
Now, onto the findings of the Blue Cross Blue Shield report. Put on your seat belt and take a big breath, as they are truly staggering and jaw dropping.
- Each rate of change occurred in just a 4-year span: 2013-2017
- Average age of person living with early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia: 49 years old
- 58% of all cases occurred in Women
- 200% increase in diagnosis between ages 30-64 years old
- 407% increase in Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis in ages 30-44 years old
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have numerous factors that influence the disease trajectory, many of which begin decades before the first signs or symptoms appear. As such, it is essential to have a multiprong approach when addressing the risk factors associated with this dreadful condition. One of the primary approaches that holds incredible promise is in addressing the body’s inflammatory response. Prolonged inflammation results in gradual and progressive loss of your MOOD · MIND · MEMORY. A sustained inflammatory response causes the brain to degenerate, shrink, and lose the ability to create new connections, referred to as neurogenesis. In a future article, I will discuss one of the earliest signs of dementia, depression! and why your doctor is not equating this to dementia risk, and what you must do immediately counteract the long-term neurological consequences.
Dr. Michael Nelson, D.C.
Functional Medicine Pioneer
Brain Bean Founder & Creator
Source: Blue Cross Blue Shield. Early-Onset Dementia and Alzheimer's Rates Grow for Younger American Adults. Published February 27, 2020. Retrieved: