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There are only 92 geriatricians in Arizona. And Alzheimer’s cases are growing

The Alzheimer’s Association recently released its 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. Arizona continues to have the fastest growing number of cases in the nation. It also found the state is facing a shortage of geriatricians. 

There are only 92 geriatricians in the state, according to Kinsey McManus who’s with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Desert Southwest chapter. And she says they’re mostly concentrated in urban areas like Phoenix and Tucson. 

"So once we move out into our rural communities, you know, we're really not meeting the need anywhere near where we need to in the moment," says McManus. "And because we're seeing such a fast growth rate of Alzheimer's diagnoses, we are going to be incredibly, incredibly outpaced by 2050."

The report also looked at the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment, which is characterized by subtle changes in memory and thinking. McManus says awareness of mild cognitive impairment is still relatively low among the general public and is not part of the typical aging process. 

"Because of the complicated tasks we have to perform as employees, that's where we may really see some of those pieces of, you know, not being able to do the work to the level that they used to," she said.

McManus says employers may need to make minor accommodations to ensure that an employee with mild cognitive impairment can continue working. 

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.