A recent study addressing Alzheimer’s disease and its toll on our society suggests that the number of people suffering from the illness will double by 2050. Scientists explain that this trend is explained by the baby boomer population that is now aging. As a consequence, costs for caring for Alzheimer’s patients are also expected increase as much as fivefold, especially if ways aren’t found to delay the illness or prevent it altogether.
Currently, the cost of treatment for Alzheimer’s patients is approximated at $307 billion. However, by 2050, the study suggests that costs will reach $1.5 trillion a year. In fact, according to estimates made by researchers, the average annual cost per Alzheimer’s patient will double the 2010 yearly cost of $71,000.
“It is so expensive because individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease need extensive help with daily activities provided by paid caregivers or by family members who may be taking time off of work to care for them, which has a double impact on the economy,”
Julie Zissimopoulos, study leader and assistant professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California said.
Zissimopoulos added that late stages of the disease also involve personal care assistance as patients lose the ability to control movement. Consequently, patients require round-the –clock care, often in an institutional setting.
Medicare and Medicaid cover the costs of such treatments, the study said, and researchers estimate that by 2050, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will have almost doubled (from 43 million in 2012 to 84 million).
“Our colleagues in the medical field are working on ways to understand how the disease interferes with brain processes — and then stop it,”
Scientists insist on elucidating the etiology of the disease because, by 2050, the nation will experience a 153 percent increase in the number of Alzheimer’s patients 70 years and older. This means that 9.1 million patients will have to receive treatment, University of Southern California researchers point out.
Researchers hope that in the future, scientists will be able to find a way to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. If such a delay is possible, 41 percent fewer cases and lower overall costs to society could be achievable, as the study published in the Forum for Health Economics and Policy journal suggests.
“Investment in their work now could yield huge benefits down the line,”