South Florida leads the nation in the percentage of people living with Alzheimer’s, and the state has more help coming to support and care for those individuals.
Miami-Dade County has the highest percentage of people in the entire nation living with Alzheimer’s disease who are 65 and older, with Broward and Palm Beach counties reporting high percentages, too.
Broward County is number 35 and Palm Beach County is number 39 for Alzheimer’s prevalence of people 65 and older out of the nation’s 3,142 counties with a population of more than 10,000 people.
Alzheimer’s experts around the world learned about the prevalence of the disease in each state and county in a new report by three Chicago medical centers and released at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this week in Amsterdam.
In terms of actual numbers of people with the disease, Miami-Dade is ranked fouth in the nation and Palm Beach County is 10th.
The rankings come just as Florida has increased its spending on Alzheimer’s: An additional $4 million this year will help get seniors with memory disorders off the wait list for services such in-home, adult day care, emergency, and extended care. There are about 16,000 people on the list.
An additional $8.5 million will go towards the memory disorder clinic in the state, with two in Palm Beach (Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach) and one in Broward (Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach) receiving about $500,000 each — roughly doubling their existing budgets.
“It will help them increase the amount of patients they can serve, which as you can see is needed,” said Matthew Eaton, a spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Association Florida region.
Researchers attributed South Florida’s high percentages of Alzheimer’s seniors to its diverse population. The progressive disease that affects memory and language crops up more often among Hispanic and Black populations. Indeed, Black adults are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s, and Hispanic adults are 1.5 times more likely to have Alzheimer’s, than white adults.
Broward’s population is 30.6% Black and 32.5% Hispanic; Palm Beach County is 20% Black and 24% Hispanic; and Miami-Dade’s population is 17% Black and 69% Hispanic, according to 2020 U.S. Census numbers.
The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease is mounting, but Florida has been working toward getting more resources.
Nationally, the financial cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s is $321 billion, the report found.
Florida’s new state budget signed into law in June already allocates $65 million for Alzheimer’s care and research, $12.5 million more than last year.
Florida has 580,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, second only to California, which has 810,000 individuals. Both are top states with senior populations.
“With all the new developments, we are entering a new era in Alzheimer’s research and treatments,” said Jennifer Braisted, director of government affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association Florida region. “We are glad to see funding increasing and we are hoping Florida is able to meet the demand and ensure seniors have access to cognitive screenings and potential new treatments.”
On Wednesday, Florida Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Nuñez visited Ocala’s Elliott Center to highlight the state’s record funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research and care. She said the state ranks first in the country for its funding commitment.
“So that’s something we are very proud of — we put our money where our mouth is and we understand we need to be forward-thinking and making sure we’re funding this in a way that’s appropriate,” she said.
Sun Sentinel health reporter Cindy Goodman can be reached at email@example.com.