It’s not that Alzheimer’s is somehow becoming more virulent. In fact, some studies indicate that Americans are at less risk of developing the disease today because the rates of heart disease and stroke nationwide are going down. Scientists believe there is a link between cardiovascular health and forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s.
Instead, it’s demographics that are leading the shift. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the country will experience what some demographers call “the silver tsunami,” as aging Americans fuel a higher demand for services and health care. With that shift also comes an increase in age-related disease, like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. So while the risk of Alzheimer’s might actually be on the decline, the sheer number of older Americans is expected to make the disease a leading cause of death nationwide for decades.