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Alzheimer's Healthcare Costs Have More Than Tripled

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:55 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Alzheimer's and Dementia, Memory Loss, Alzheimer's Association


IMAGE SOURCE: © Alzheimer’s Association

The total healthcare costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia are more than triple those of other people 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures that was released yesterday.

According to the report, nursing home and other health expenses averaged $33,007 annually for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, compared with $10,603 for people 65 and older without the disease.

The figures are based on 2004 data and include average per-person Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance costs.

About 10 million caregivers — most of which are family members — provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care for Alzheimer patients in 2008.

"These statistics paint a bleak picture of what's going to happen ... unless we invest in solutions" to delay onset and prevent the disease, Angela Geiger, the association’s chief strategy officer, said in a phone interview.

The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on Congress and President Obama to double research funding for the incurable illness by 2011, to $1 billion a year.

An estimated 26 million people worldwide are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050 that number is expected to quadruple. To put it another way, every 71 seconds a person gets Alzheimer’s disease. By the year 2050, that figure will change to every 33 seconds.

Alzheimer's attacks brain cells, killing some and weakening the effectiveness of others. The most obvious symptom of Alzheimer's is the loss of memory and the associated inability to recognize friends and loved ones. Usually the disease strikes slowly and the symptoms go unnoticed or are discounted. Eventually the victim has difficulty expressing thoughts and performing common activities.

The tangles and plagues associated with Alzheimer’s act as weeds that suffocate the healthy brain tissues causing it to die.

“There are no available treatments that can delay, prevent or reverse Alzheimer disease and for the last six years research has been stagnant. With the first baby boomers turning 65 in just two short years – and entering the arena of increasing risk for developing the disease – an aggressive plan is needed now to address the threat of this disease,” said Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association CEO.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the country, surpassing diabetes; it is the fifth leading cause of death among individuals 65 and older.

From 2000 to 2006, while breast, heart disease, stroke and prostate cancer deaths declined, Alzheimer's deaths surged to 47 percent. #

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