Devastating Costs of Alzheimer’s Dementia Care
The soaring cost and prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease has a tremendous impact on our nation’s families and economy. This is according to a disturbing 2017 report released yesterday by the Alzheimer’s Association.
The statistics in the report emphasize the need for estate and Medicaid planning for disability. 390,000 New York residents 65 and older suffered from Alzheimer’s disease last year.
Total annual payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias exceed a quarter of a trillion dollars. $175 billion of that is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid alone. This excludes unpaid caregiving. The total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2017 dollars).
Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased dramatically while deaths from other major causes decreased.
The strain of providing Alzheimer’s care harms caregivers’ mental and physical health. The report includes new research on the disease’s impact on caregivers, such as family members.
“This report details the physical and mental damage many people experience when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s,” said Beth Kallmyer, MSW, Vice President of Constituent Services for the Alzheimer’s Association. “It also reveals how this burden disproportionately affects women, who tend to spend more time caregiving, take on more caregiving tasks and care for individuals with more cognitive, functional and behavioral problems.”
More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care in the form of physical, emotional and financial support for the estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages living with Alzheimer’s dementia. In 2016, Alzheimer’s caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care – a contribution to the nation valued at $230.1 billion.
The new report illustrates that the strain of caregiving produces serious physical and mental health consequences. For instance, more than one out of three (35 percent) caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared with one out of five (19 percent) caregivers for older people without dementia. Also, depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among people providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.
Caring for someone living with dementia often falls on women, who make up two-thirds of Alzheimer’s caregivers. New findings highlighted in the report show that of all dementia caregivers who provided care for more than 40 hours a week, 69 percent are women. Of those providing care to someone with dementia for more than five years, 63 percent are women.
The new statistics for the increased prevalence, incidence and mortality of Alzheimer’s disease are:
• Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017, 5.3 million people are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 are under age 65 (younger-onset Alzheimer’s).
• Barring the development of medical breakthroughs, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may nearly triple from 5.3 million to 13.8 million by 2050.
• Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s dementia. By mid-century, someone in the U.S. will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
• Approximately 480,000 people—almost half a million—age 65 or older will develop Alzheimer’s dementia in the U.S. in 2017.
• Two-thirds of Americans over age 65 with Alzheimer’s dementia (3.3 million) are women.
• Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth-leading cause of death for those ages 65 and older.
• Alzheimer’s remains the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.