April 4, 2012 — Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) takes a huge toll on the people who have it, and on their loved ones.  This is not new news.  But the impact it has now, and will have as Baby Boomers reach senior status swelling the number of AD patients, is truly staggering and many Americans may not be aware of the magnitude of the problem.  Caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will cost the United States about $200 billion this year; $140 billion of that price tag will be picked up by Medicare and Medicaid.

Part of the problem is that people with AD usually have at least one other serious health problem.  The mental impairment of AD patients makes treating their other ailments significantly more challenging, and costly, making AD a ‘cost multiplier’ on the healthcare system.

According to a story recently posted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, national leaders in Alzheimer’s care say the cost of doing nothing to find a cure, or at least ways to slow the progression of the disease, will significantly outpace the amount we currently spend to care for AD patients.  It is a crisis that will overwhelm an already overburdened healthcare system if more is not done to tackle this illness.  For example, a senior with diabetes and Alzheimer’s cost Medicare 81% more than with diabetes alone.

Harry Johns, the president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association recommends committing $2 billion to research for a cure…that is just one percent of the current cost for treating AD patients today.  To read the full article, click on this link:

http://www.philly.com/philly/health/HealthDay662557_20120308_Alzheimer_s__Dementia_Care_to_Cost_U_S___200_Billion_This_Year.html

In another recent article, this one from the Huffington Post, Michael Hodin, the executive director of the Global Coalition on Aging, reported from London in March at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Global Meeting, that Alzheimer’s Disease is indeed a global crisis.  Dr. Peter Piot, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, gave an impassioned speech to set an agenda to shape the global health priorities for decades to come.  Dr. Piot called AD a ‘time bomb” and warned that “…due to the tragic and cruel torture it inflicts on its victims, AD also demanded, on ethical grounds, to be elevated to a human rights issue.” 

Dr. Piot led the United Nation’s UNAIDS organization which played a profound role in transforming AIDS from a certain death sentence to a manageable illness.  The call for increased spending was made with an alarming comparison of AD research funding compared to other non-communicable diseases.  For example, cancer gets 10 times the funding that AD does, cardiovascular disease gets five times the spending, and diabetes gets double.  It’s not surprising that AD-related deaths have jumped by 66 percent in the last ten years, while other NCDs have fallen by 20 percent. 

The worldwide price tag for the disease is currently $604 billion annually; fully one percent of the global GDP.  As people live longer, the explosive trajectory of this spending is clear.  The risk for people getting AD is one in eight for people 65 and older and one in 2.5 for those over 85.  “What a cruel twist it would be if, due to lack of basic research and prevention, the ‘miracle’ of longevity became a curse.”

For the full story, click on this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-hodin/alzheimers_b_1347320.html