When it comes to Alzheimer's disease, why do people associate this disease with the elderly; can't a young person get it just the same?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Each year, the Alzheimer’s Association publishes a report of the most current research and statistical data concerning the disease. The most recent report, the 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, reveals that while people below the age of sixty-five can have the disease, the majority of those suffering with Alzheimer's are over the age of sixty-five.

The report says that the total number of people in the United States in 2012 who had Alzheimer’s is 5.4 million; that figure is just an official estimate and includes all age groups. Of that total number, only 200,000 people have what is called early-onset Alzheimer's, which means the disease begins before the person reaches the age of fifty-five.

• One in eight people age 65 and older (13 percent)
has Alzheimer’s disease.
• Nearly half of people age 85 and older (45 percent)
have Alzheimer’s disease.
• Of those with Alzheimer’s disease, an estimated
4 percent are under age 65, 6 percent are 65 to 74,
44 percent are 75 to 84, and 46 percent are 85
or older.

Clearly this is a disease most associated with the elderly [though the closer I get to age sixty-five, the less that seems elderly to me!] because it strikes the elderly significantly and statistically more often than it does any other age group.