A new report measures the cost of Alzheimer’s: on the person with the disease, on caregivers, and on the economy. The report also highlights the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and projects that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will grow exponentially over the coming years.
2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, an annual report released by the Alzheimer’s Association, finds that the costs associated with the disease, both human and fiscal, are growing at a disturbing rate. In 2012, the annual direct care costs for those with Alzheimer’s disease are estimated to be $200 billion. By 2050, the annual direct care costs, in today’s dollars, are projected to balloon to $1.1 trillion dollars. Most of these costs are paid for through Medicare and Medicaid, with less than one forth paid privately.
Currently, 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. 5.2 million are aged 65 and over, meaning that one in eight seniors has Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to increase 30 percent by 2025 and triple by 2050. Of those with Alzheimer’s, 800,000 live alone and half of these individuals do not have an identifiable caregiver. These individuals who are living alone are at increased risk for inadequate self-care, malnutrition, untreated medical conditions, falls, wandering from home, and accidental deaths.
Most individuals, however, receive care either in a skilled nursing facility, assisted living community, or by a family caregiver. In 2011, 15.2 million family caregivers provided 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at $210.5 billion. Even once the person with Alzheimer’s moves into an assisted living community or other care option, the family caregiver usually continues to provide financial or legal assistance along with emotional support.
The toll on the individual with Alzheimer’s disease is devastating. In addition to the pain of memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. The number of deaths resulting from Alzheimer’s has increased 66 percent between 2000 and 2008 and is expected to continue to increase if a cure is not found.