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Alzheimer's 2018 Facts and Figures

By Peter DiMaria

Alzheimer's Care in Enfield

Article originally published by The Enfield Press*

Every year, the Alzheimer’s Association releases a report with an in-depth look at the latest national statistics and information on Alzheimer’s prevalence, incidence, mortality, costs of care and caregiving. The “2018 Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures” once again paints a gloomy picture, with new increases in the number of cases, mortality and costs of care for Alzheimer’s patients.

As of 2018, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's dementia and every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer’s cases are on the rise, while the incidence of other major diseases is decreasing. Between 2000 and 2015 deaths from heart disease were reduced by 11% while deaths from Alzheimer's disease have increased by 123%. Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the only among the top 10 causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. Around a third of all seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.

Home Care and Family Caregivers

The costs of Alzheimer's Care are also escalating. In 2017 more than 16.1 million Americans provided an estimated 18.4 billion unpaid hours caring for someone with Alzheimer's or other dementias, valued at more than $232 billion. The difficulties associated with providing this level of care are estimated to have resulted in $11.4 billion in additional healthcare costs for Alzheimer’s and other dementia caregivers in 2017. Given the long duration of this disease, the strain on Alzheimer’s caregivers can last several years and produce serious declines in caregiver physical, emotional and financial well-being.

Alzheimer's also places a huge burden on the health care system, with annual costs exceeding a quarter of a trillion dollars. In 2018, total payments to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are projected to increase of nearly $20 billion over last year and will surpass a quarter of a trillion dollars ($277 billion), for the second consecutive year. By 2050, the total cost of care for Alzheimer’s is projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion.

Alzheimer's Care 2018 Facts and Figures

Silver lining

However, not all is bad news in the Alzheimer’s front. In an accompanying special report titled, “Alzheimer’s Disease: Financial and Personal Benefits of Early Diagnosis,” the Alzheimer’s Association showcases the impact of recent scientific developments, like the identification of biological markers, or biomarkers. These could enable the diagnosis of  Alzheimer’s during the Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) which characterizes the early phase of the disease.

The early diagnosis with the use of biomarkers for Alzheimer’s could allow the research for treatments that may prevent or delay the onset of clinical symptoms, such as memory loss, confusion, and difficulties carrying out routine day-to-day tasks.

The report also uses new economic modeling data to show how early diagnosis during the MCI stage of the disease would result in cost savings as much as $7.9 trillion over the lifetime of all Americans living today.  

According to the association, studies show that the expenses associated with identification of people with MCI are lower than those for people in the later stage of Alzheimer’s dementia. Also, costs are lower once a person with Alzheimer’s gets on the right care path. The disease is better managed, there are fewer complications from other chronic conditions, and unnecessary hospitalizations can be avoided.

The earlier diagnosis may also help with greater per-person savings. The Alzheimer’s Association data modeling shows that in today’s environment – in which diagnosis usually occurs in the dementia stage– the projected health and long-term care costs of an individual with Alzheimer’s is $424,000. Under an early diagnosis scenario in which an individual has a greater likelihood of being diagnosed during the MCI stage, the average per-person cost is projected to be $360,000 – a savings of $64,000 per individual.

The special report also details personal benefits of early diagnosis, including:

  • Accurate diagnosis: early diagnosis can help determine if cognitive changes are truly due to Alzheimer’s or some other – perhaps even treatable – condition.
  • Medical benefits: early diagnosis allows individuals to adopt lifestyle changes which may help preserve their existing cognitive function for as long as possible; interventions such as controlling blood pressure, smoking cessation and exercise.
  • Participation in Clinical Trials: early diagnosis allows individuals to enroll in clinical trials that advance research and may provide medical benefits.

Home Helpers Home Care provides Alzheimer's Care

Home Helpers Home Care provides respite care for family caregivers suffering from burnout from caring for someone with Alzheimer's. Home Helpers Alzheimer’s Care and Dementia Care professional caregivers are continuously trained at renowned institutions, to provide the best quality of home care to your loved one.

We understand that Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients have a unique relationship with changes. We work to build a team that will be responsible for the care of your loved one, limiting changes and replacements to as little as possible. Having the team our clients love and feel comfortable with enables them to trust their caregivers and be more cooperative in their daily living activities.

Caregiver Supervisors are also part of this team and are on call 24/7. They are always ready to offer advice and support to their staff and to our clients.

   

* Home Helpers owner Peter DiMaria writes weekly for The Enfield Press and bi-weekly for the Journal Inquirer.

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