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California Alzheimer's Disease Program

The Alzheimer’s Disease Program (ADP) was established in 1984 through legislation that sought to relieve the human burden and economic costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), and to assist in ultimately discovering the cause, treatment, and prevention of these diseases.  The program provides: 

  • Clinical services to persons with ADRD and their families through the California Alzheimer's Disease Centers (CADCs).  The CADCs are a network of ten state-of-the-art Centers located at university medical centers throughout the state.  These Centers provide diagnostic and treatment services; professional training for medical residents, postdoctoral fellows, nurses, interns, and medical students; and community education such as caregiver training and support.
  • Research awards to scientists engaged in the study of ADRD through the Alzheimer's Disease Research Awards (ADRA).  Since 1985, the fund has awarded over $18 million to 112 scientists.  The 122 studies funded have encompassed the areas of diagnosis, treatment, prevention, epidemiology, behavioral management, caregiving, and basic science.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a clinical syndrome of decline in memory and other thinking abilities. It is caused by various diseases and conditions that result in damage to brain cells and lead to distinct symptom patterns and distinguishing brain abnormalities. AD is the most common form of dementia accounting for 70% of all causes of dementia, and vascular disease is the second most common cause, accounting for 17% of all dementing disorders. Other diseases and conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body disease, frontotemporal dementia and normal pressure hydrocephalus, account for the remaining 13 percent.

To be classified as dementia, the following criteria must be met:

     A.  It must include decline in memory and in at least one of the following cognitive abilities:

          1.  Ability to generate coherent speech or understand spoken or written language;

          2.  Ability to recognize or identify objects, assuming intact sensory function;

          3.  Ability to execute motor activities, assuming intact motor abilities, sensory function and comprehension of the
               required task; and

          4.  Ability to think abstractly, make sound judgments and plan and carry out complex tasks

     B.  The decline in cognitive abilities must be severe enough to interfere with daily life.

What Is Alzheimer's Disease?

  • AD is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate, and carry out daily activities such as bathing and eating.  As AD progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior.  They may exhibit mood swings, express distrust in others, show increased stubbornness, and withdraw socially.  They may become anxious or aggressive and behave inappropriately.  The disease is the most common cause of severe intellectual impairment in older individuals and a primary reason for the placement of the elderly in nursing homes.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may include:

  • gradual and progressive memory loss
  • difficulty in following directions and performing routine tasks
  • impaired judgment, reasoning, concentration, and orientation
  • confusion and restlessness personality changes
  • loss of the ability to care for one's self

Currently, there are no known treatments to prevent, cure, delay the onset, or slow the progression of AD and other dementias.  However, there is often much that can be done to manage symptoms, improve functioning, and aid the family in caring for the patient at home.

Prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease

Every 70 seconds, someone in America develops AD.  By mid-century, someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

There are now more than 5.2 million people in the United States living with AD.  As the population ages, this number is expected to triple by the year 2050.   Among baby boomers aged 55 and over, one in eight will develop AD and one in six will develop a dementia. Half of all persons 85 years and older will develop the disease.  Although the illness usually develops in people age 65 or older, it is estimated that over 500,000 people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.  It is the sixth leading cause of death in the country. 

Currently, there are 588,208 Californians 55 and over living with Alzheimer’s disease; one-tenth of the nation’s Alzheimer’s patients reside in this state.  By 2030, this number will nearly double in California; growing to over 1.1 million.  Due to a rapidly aging population, the number of California’s Latinos and Asians living with Alzheimer’s disease will triple by 2030.  The number of African-Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease will double in this timeframe.

Cost of Alzheimer's Disease

The total annual costs to all payers for the care of people with Alzheimer’s disease will increase from $172 billion in 2010 to $1.08 trillion in 2050. Medicare costs for the care of people with Alzheimer’s will increase more than 600 percent, from $88 billion in 2010 to $627 billion in 2050. Medicaid costs will increase 400 percent, from $34 billion in 2010 to $178 billion in 2050. Out-of-pocket costs to people with Alzheimer’s and their families will increase more than 400 percent, from $30 billion in 2010 to $157 billion in 2050.

Please note:

From 1985 to 1998, the State centers were named the Alzheimer’s Diagnostic and Treatment Centers (ADDTCs).  The name was changed in 1997 to the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers of California (ARCCs) to highlight the new clinical and translational research activities that had become an integral part of the Centers.  In 2009, the California Legislature reduced the ADP funding by 50% and directed the Centers to discontinue all research studies and data collection.  The Centers were renamed the California Alzheimer's Disease Centers (CADCs) to reflect this change in mission.

From 1989 to 2009, the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund was supported by both the State General Fund and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Research Tax Checkoff Fund.  The 2009 mandate from the Legislature eliminated all General Fund support for the ADP research awards.  The research studies are now solely dependent on donations from California taxpayers on their State income tax forms.

Last modified on: 6/16/2011 5:23 PM