Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually is fatal. It is also the most common cause of dementia in older people.
Scientists still have not determined the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease, but studies on plaque and tangles of the nerves within the brain are being conducted. Most people develop "late-onset" Alzheimer's in their 60s. There is no cure for Alzheimer's yet, but there are prescriptions that may temporarily slow the progression of the disease.
When Alzheimer’s symptoms develop before age 65 it is referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s. About 5% of those with Alzheimer’s have early-onset. (Mayo)
Experts suggest that 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's, and there are over 15 million unpaid caregivers of Alzheimer's patients within the United States. The number of individuals with Alzheimer's is expected to almost triple, approaching 16 million, in the next few decades. Almost half of those over age 85 have some form of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans.
Alzheimer's has a disproportionate impact on members of the African American and Hispanic communities, who are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. African Americans are about twice as likely, and Hispanics are about 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than are Caucasians for reasons not yet understood.
The financial costs of Alzheimer’s for families and government are enormous.
The average family caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s can expect to spend $215,000 throughout the entire course of the disease ($40,000 for direct costs; $175,000 for indirect costs).
Every year, American taxpayers spend $200 billion on Medicare and Medicaid expenses related to Alzheimer’s. If substantial progress is not made in stopping Alzheimer’s, Medicare and Medicaid spending will reach $1.1 trillion in today’s dollars by 2050.
Medicaid payments alone are more than nine times higher for those with Alzheimer’s compared to those without. The average annual payments per person for health care, services, and Medicare for beneficiaries aged 65 or older with Alzheimer’s is $43,847 which is more than three times greater than Medicare pays for individuals without Alzheimer’s and dementia. The cost difference is attributed to the institutional care that is necessary in the later stages of the disease due to total dependence. More than 50% of nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s disease.
More than $200 billion is spent annually treating Alzheimer’s, which is more than 400 times the amount spent on finding a cure. For every dollar the federal government spends today on the costs of Alzheimer’s care, it invests less than a penny in research to find a cure.
Yes. The research community believes it is possible to prevent or control the disease within ten years with a disciplined strategy that is adequately funded. To succeed, we need a political strategy that ensures that elected officials and lawmakers make fighting Alzheimer’s a national priority and implement a clear plan for a cure.
USAgainstAlzheimer’s believes strongly that through bipartisan support for innovative ideas that cut through government bureaucracy and streamline funding for research, we can end Alzheimer’s as we know it by 2020.
Legislation will be posted as it is introduced in the current Congress. In 2012, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its proposal to increase federal funding for Alzheimer's research by $80 million dollars over the current fiscal year as one of the concrete steps in support of the United States' first-ever National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease - a comprehensive roadmap with a bold goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's by 2025. The Plan establishes five ambitious goals to both prevent future cases of Alzheimer's disease and to better meet the needs of the millions of American families currently facing this disease.
- Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer's Disease by 2025.
- Optimize Care Quality and Efficiency.
- Expand Supports for People with Alzheimer's Disease and Their Families.
- Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement.
- Track Progress and Drive Improvement.
Alzheimer's and dementia is a global crisis that also requires a global solution. About 36 million people worldwide are suffering from dementia today, a number that will spike to 115 million by the mid-century point. According to Alzheimer's Disease International, current global costs of caring for the current number of victims exceeds $600 billion annually. This spending is unsustainable, making Alzheimer's a grave threat to the world's health and finances if not stopped.
When the world has faced catastrophic challenges before, nations have marshaled significant resources behind clear goals and objectives to achieve great things. A decade ago, the world committed to an ambitious, aggressive and well-funded effort to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria. Ten years later, that effort has paid significant dividends in terms of lives saved and economic development fostered. Similar commitments both domestic and international have enabled the world to make tremendous strides in addressing other diseases and conditions such as cancers and heart disease. The time has now come to embrace a similar global effort to stop Alzheimer's and dementia, a disease that Professor Peter Piot, head of the United Nation's global AIDS effort, has compared in scope to the AIDS crisis.
The following are links to governmental and non-governmental reports on the Alzheimer's crisis.