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The impact of Alzheimer’s

March 13, 2012
The Daily News

People with Alzheimer's and other dementias cost Medicaid 19 times more than older people without these conditions, the Alzheimer's Association reports.

According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2012 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, caring for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the United States an estimated $200 billion in 2012, including $140 billion paid by Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare payments for an older person with Alzheimer's or other dementias are nearly three times higher while Medicaid payments are 19 times higher than for seniors without Alzheimer's and other dementias.

Unless a concerted effort to change the trajectory of the disease is made today, costs for Alzheimer's and other dementias will soar from $200 billion this year to as high as $1.1 trillion dollars in 2050 - just 38 years.

This dramatic rise includes a 500 percent increase in combined Medicare and Medicaid spending and 400 percent increase in out-of-pocket spending for families.

"With aging baby boomers and the nation facing unprecedented economic challenges, it is more important than ever for America to deal with the Alzheimer's crisis," said Dian Wilkins, the executive director of the Alzheimer's Association's Greater Michigan Chapter.

"The impact of Alzheimer's on Michigan cannot be underestimated, with as many as 180,000 living with the disease now, and an estimated 500,000-plus caregivers providing almost 7 billion dollars of unpaid care a year; it is clear every effort must be made to address Alzheimer's disease today," Wilkins said.

According to the Alzheimer's Association report, there are 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease, including 5.2 million people age 65 or older and 200,000 people under the age of 65.

Every 68 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer's.

Nearly 30 percent of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are on Medicare and Medicaid compared to 11 percent of individuals without dementia.

Individuals who have Alzheimer's and other dementias are high consumers of hospital, nursing home and other health and long-term care services, which translate into high costs for Medicare, Medicaid and for millions of families.

While only 4 percent of the general population will be admitted to a nursing home by age 80, for people with Alzheimer's, 75 percent will admitted to a nursing home by age 80, posing significant economic challenges to state Medicaid budgets.

As families struggle to survive in a challenging economic environment and states grapple with budget shortfalls, Alzheimer's disease threatens to overwhelm them both.

The new report reveals there are 15.2 million friends and family members providing care for individuals with Alzheimer's and other dementias, including 504,550 caregivers in Michigan.

In 2011 nationally, these caregivers provided $210 billion dollars worth of unpaid care nationally, and $6,963,924,952 in Michigan.

Most people survive an average of four to eight years after an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis, but some can live as long as 20 years with the disease.

This prolonged duration often places increasingly intensive care demands on family members and friends who provide care.

Caregivers take on a tremendous financial, physical and emotional toll to help care for a loved one with Alzheimer's.

Sixty-one percent of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias rated their emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high.

The physical and emotional impact on Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers is estimated to result in nearly $9 billion in increased health care costs in the United States, including $277,650,941 for caregivers right here in Michigan.

While Alzheimer's imposes profound challenges on individuals and their families, for the one out of seven individuals with Alzheimer's who live alone these challenges are even more formidable.

The 2012 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures reports that an estimated 800,000 individuals in the United States have Alzheimer's and live alone, and up to half of these individuals do not have an identifiable caregiver.

People with dementia who live alone are at greater risk of jeopardized health than those who live with others, including greater risk of missed or delayed diagnosis and increased risk for self-neglect, including malnutrition and untreated medical conditions.

"Advance planning for the individual with Alzheimer's or another dementia who lives alone is absolutely critical," said Wilkins. "Alzheimer's and other dementias take individuals through unfamiliar territory, and advance planning in the early stages of the disease allows individuals to build their care team, make financial plans and prepare for future safety concerns, while they are still cognitively able to do so."

Alzheimer's has profound implications for future state budgets, and states must prepare now to address the multiple and complex challenges that Alzheimer's poses to individuals, families and state governments, particularly Medicaid.

"The new Facts and Figures report shows the significant impact the disease has on the individual who has Alzheimer's and lives alone, for those who have the disease and live with their families and for all levels of government," said Ruth Almen, U.P. Regional Director.

"This is why the Alzheimer's Association supports federal efforts under way to create the first ever National Alzheimer's Plan, with the help of many of our supporters here in the U.P. and throughout the state," Almen said.

"In the Upper Peninsula, where as many as 8,400 people are living with Alzheimer's Disease, and an aging population, we are working harder than ever to provide services, supports and information to everyone, and to educate decision makers in Michigan to the continuing needs in our communities," she said.

 
 

 

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