Montgomery, Clark counties among the highest in Alzheimer’s prevalence, new data show

Raising dementia awareness can help plan health programs.



Montgomery County is tied with Hamilton County at second in Ohio for the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, and Clark County is among the top 10 counties, according to new data released at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this week.

In what the Alzheimer’s Association calls the first county-level estimates of the prevalence of people with Alzheimer’s dementia, researchers found the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the east and southeastern regions of the U.S.

“These new estimates add more granular data to our understanding of Alzheimer’s prevalence across the country,” said Kumar B. Rajan, one of the researchers of the study and a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush Medical College.

Montgomery County was tied with Hamilton County for the second-highest with 12.5% prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in residents 65 and older. The Alzheimer’s Association also estimated Montgomery County to have approximately 12,300 residents with Alzheimer’s disease among those 65 and older, out of a population of 98,800 people who are 65 and older.

Alzheimer's dementia prevalence estimates, 2020
CountyTotal population age 65 and older (nearest 100)Alzheimer's disease of age 65 and older (nearest 100)Alzheimer's disease prevalence (age 65 and older)

Clark County was among the top 10 counties with a prevalence of 11.1% with an estimated 3,000 people out of 27,000 people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. For Ohio in general, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease was 11.3% with an estimated 236,200 people out of 2,087,600 people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease.

Rajan and other researchers used cognitive data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project and population estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics to estimate the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in adults 65 years and older in all U.S. counties. The data was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“This information, in addition to raising awareness of the Alzheimer’s crisis in specific communities, may help public health programs better allocate funding, staffing and other resources for caring for people with Alzheimer’s and all other dementia,” said Rajan.

The counties with more prevalence are more populous than others, but they are also home to more Black and Hispanic Americans, who face a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in general.

“Population is certainly one of the reasons for it, but we also know that there are disparities that exist,” said Camren Harris, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Ohio research champion and public policy manager.

Age is a primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s, but older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older white Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Older Hispanic Americans also are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites Americans.

Other research has shown the impacts of racism on the brain, Harris said, discussing findings released last year that showed exposure to interpersonal and institutional racism was associated with lower memory scores.

“It looked at racism on the brain and how experiences of racism and experiences of prejudice and things of that can certainly have a negative effect on one’s cognitive ability, and it can lead to cognitive decline,” Harris said.

Other factors found in metropolitan hubs can also impact the brain, such as strenuous jobs.

“We know that there are some things like lifestyle factors as well as environmental factors that contribute to that as well,” Harris said. “So when we look at Montgomery County for example, at some point where you have people who may have worked in certain fields or industries that contribute to poor health and more stress and strain on the body, that certainly has an effect as well.”



What affects the heart also affects the brain, Harris said. If your heart is under stress and strain, it is going to put stress on your brain functions, as well.

This all points to why research is needed, Harris said, to help address all the areas of complexity that can impact brain health and cognitive decline, as there may not be one answer for everyone suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

“It’s not necessarily going to be a one-size-fits-all approach, so what can we do, what can we learn, to ensure that when we do get to that day when we do find a cure that the cure is equitable and fair across the board,” Harris said.

The importance of data around prevalence also shows the need to have the infrastructure ready to support the aging population.

“Ohio is an aging state, which is not a bad thing; however, we just need to ensure that we have the proper Alzheimer’s and dementia infrastructure in place,” Harris said. “Data suggests that right now 220,000 Ohioans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s, and in just two years continuing at the rate that it has, our data suggests that by 2025 there will be 250,000 Ohioans age 65 and older living with dementia.”

Early diagnosis is also key to living with Alzheimer’s disease, said one community educator, Scott Griswold, who held a recent seminar on understanding Alzheimer’s at the Wilmington-Stroop Branch of the Dayton Metro Library this week.

“The best thing that you can do is to talk to your doctor or health care professional and get a diagnosis because that medication...has helped me immensely,” said Griswold, who received his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2018.

Alzheimer's disease prevalence in local counties
CountyTotal population age 65 and older (nearest 100)Alzheimer's disease of age 65 and older (nearest 100)Alzheimer's disease prevalence (age 65 and older)
Montgomery 98,80012,30012.5%
Clark 27,0003,00011.1%
Auglaize 8,80090010.8%

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