Central Valley

Alzheimer’s patients in Valley could double in two decades

As baby boomers age and live longer, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease could double in the central San Joaquin Valley and statewide in the next two decades, a report released today says.

Resources to care for people with Alzheimer’s already are in short supply in the Valley. And the burden of caring for those with the disease will only increase for families and the government, the report says.

The Valley also faces caring for an aging minority population. The number of Hispanics and Asians living with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple by 2030, according to a California Alzheimer’s Association report released today.

It’s essential that the state develop a strategic plan for Alzheimer’s disease, said Linda J. Hewett, senior psychologist at the UCSF Alzheimer’s and Memory Center in Fresno. The Fresno center is one of 10 in the state that diagnoses Alzheimer’s disease and does research.

The Valley and the state are looking at a demographic tidal wave of aging baby boomers who face getting the disease sometime in their lives, she said.

Right now in the Valley, about 25,000 people 55 and older are living with the disease, according to the association report. By 2030, that number will increase to nearly 54,000, the report said.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that leads to memory loss and dementia.