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North Central Kansas Counties Struggle with High Alzheimer's Rate

Andy Marso
Heartland Health Monitor

North central Kansas has been dealing with soaring Alzheimer’s rates. There are well over million Americans with Alzheimer’s. Almost all of them are 65 and over and on Medicare. That number is expected to grow by almost two million in the next 10 years. And Clay County, Kansas, is the most deeply affected in the nation. A staggering 23 percent of Clay County’s Medicare population has Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia. That’s the highest recorded rate among Medicare beneficiaries in the United States — just above Florida’s Miami-Dade County.

Why does the Kansas county stands out? That’s a tough question to answer. Researchers believe there’s a genetic component to Alzheimer’s. So if a handful of large families in Clay County are predisposed to having the disease, it could affect the Alzheimer’s rate. As the Kansas population continues to age and the Alzheimer’s rate grows, the financial burden on the state will increase.