Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Congratulations to Crystal Yu for PAA Best Poster Award!

Posted: 5/11/2021 (CSDE Awards and CSDE Research)

Congratulations to CSDE Trainee Crystal Yu (Sociology) who was awarded a best poster winner award for “The Demographic Effects of Eliminating Alzheimer’s Disease.” In Crystal’s research, she asks: if Alzheimer’s disease could be eliminated, how many premature deaths can be temporarily averted, and for approximately how long?  A degenerative neurological disease that affects components of the brain responsible for cognitive ability and motor function, Alzheimer’s disease mostly affects those over age 65. In tandem with population aging, increasing numbers of older adults are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in the coming years. Indeed, Alzheimer’s is already the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and one of the leading causes of death for adults age 65 and over.
Using cause-specific death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, along with age-specific population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau for the year 2018, Yu determines the gains in life expectancy and expected number of deaths averted when Alzheimer’s disease is eliminated as a cause of death using life tables and cause-removed life tables for the U.S. and for all fifty states. Nationally, she finds approximately 1180 deaths per 100,000 population are averted, along with gains of five to eight additional months in life expectancy across the life course.
The spatial variation in expected gains reflect state-level differences in the age distribution and prevalence of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease. Although the predicted gains are small in scale, the social implications can be immense. With larger numbers of older adults predicted to live longer lives, this will have a substantial effect on social policies, planning and budgeting for social services. Moreover, this will likely increase the demand for healthcare workers, care services, and nursing homes, among other related amenities.