New figures released show there was a 37% increase in alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers from last year according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Released last week, the study found these individuals provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $202.6 billion.
The prolonged duration of Alzheimer’s often places increasingly intense demands on the millions of family members and friends who provide care to those with the condition. The report reveals that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers have an increased potential to develop their own serious health issues. Those complications represent a financial burden of nearly $8 billion in increased healthcare costs.
“Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect those with it. It invades families and the lives of everyone around them,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association. “It is stressful and heartbreaking to see someone you love trapped in a present where their past is fading and their future too frightening to contemplate. Nearly 15 million dedicated and committed family members and friends are living with this every day.”
According to the association, an estimated 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease. While the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease is age, Alzheimer’s is not normal aging. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Based on mortality data from 2000-2008, death rates have declined for most major diseases – heart disease (-13 percent), breast cancer (-3 percent), prostate cancer (-8 percent), stroke (-20 percent) and HIV/AIDS (-29) − while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have risen 66 percent during the same period.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that total payments for health and long-term care services for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will amount to $183 billion in 2011, which is $11 billion more than in 2010.
Medicare and Medicaid costs will make up the majority of this increase. By 2050, Medicare costs for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will increase nearly 600 percent and Medicaid costs will soar almost 400 percent.
“The projected rise in Alzheimer’s incidence will become an enormous balloon payment for the nation – a payment that will exceed 1 trillion dollars by 2050,” said Robert Egge, Vice President for Public Policy for the Alzheimer’s Association. “It is clear our government must make a smart commitment in order make these costs unnecessary.”
View a copy of the report here.