The Aging of Orange County


Mental Health

Who Will Remember Me?

In the time it will take you to read this page, another person will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in this country. More than 15 million Americans are currently battling the sixth-leading cause of death in America. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Chapter, 84,000 aging adults with Alzheimer’s and related dementias reside in Orange County. Right here in our backyard.

Our cognitively impaired older adults deserve access to the best health care Orange County has to offer, yet “access to services is a challenge because the county is so large, and older adults often lack transportation,” explained Joanna Richardson-Jones, chief executive officer, Alzheimer’s Family Services Center. “There is no solid public transportation system. Even if people are mobile, the county is so large that the long durations of time spent in the car transporting a person with dementia makes traveling to services very difficult.”

This is a vexing disease across the country, but here in Orange County, it’s seizing our aging population — and future — with urgency.

Alzheimer’s robs families of loved ones, taking away the identities and independence of those affected. And caregivers often are “sandwiched” between raising children while caring for aging parents.

But it doesn’t stop there. The financial toll casts a heavy burden on families, communities and, yes, Orange County. In 2014, the disease will cost the nation $214 billion. This number is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For our invisible aging adults, there also are masked costs to Alzheimer’s. In 2013, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $220.2 billion dollars, the Association reports.

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In 2010, Orange County experienced 34.2 Alzheimer’s-related deaths per 100,000 people in Orange County. That’s higher than the California and United States averages of 29 and 25.1 per 100,000 individuals, respectively. ~ 2013 OC Health Profile