As baby boomers age, shifting nationwide demographics with them, the financial burden of AlzheimerÛªs disease on the United States will skyrocket from $307 billion annually to $1.5 trillion, USC researchers announced. Health policy researchers at the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics used models that incorporate trends in health, health care costs, education and demographics to explore the future impact of one of humanityÛªs costliest diseases on the nationÛªs population. Other key findings include:
- From 2010 to 2050, the number of individuals aged 70+ with AlzheimerÛªs will increase by 153 percent, from 3.6 to 9.1 million.
- Annual per-person costs of the disease were $71,000 in 2010, which is expected to double by 2050.
- Medicare and Medicaid currently bear 75 percent of the costs of the disease.
ÛÏAlzheimerÛªs disease is a progressive disease with symptoms that gradually worsen over time. People donÛªt get better,Û said Julie Zissimopoulos, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy.Û¬Û¬ ÛÏIt is so expensive because individuals with AlzheimerÛªs 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,Û she said. ÛÏIn late stages of the disease,Û she added, ÛÏthey need help with personal care and lose the ability to control movement which requires 24-hour care, most often in an institutional setting.Û The team found that delaying the onset of AlzheimerÛªs even a little can yield major benefits ÛÓ both in quality of life and in overall costs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, 43.1 million Americans were 65 and older, constituting 14 percent of the population. By 2050, that number will more than double to 83.7 million, constituting 21 percent of the population. Medical advances that delay the onset of AlzheimerÛªs by five years add about 2.7 years of life for patients. By 2050, a five-year delay in onset results in a 41 percent lower prevalence of the disease in the population and lowers the overall costs to society by 40 percent, according to the teamÛªs research. ÛÏOur colleagues in the medical field are working on ways to understand how the disease interferes with brain processes ÛÓ and then stop it,Û said Zissimopoulos, who is also an associate director at the USC Schaeffer Center. ÛÏInvestment in their work now could yield huge benefits down the line.Û The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Peruse our blog and you will find no shortage of information that you can use to keep dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, at bay.