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Medicare Facing Troubled Future with Alzheimer’s Care Costs

News August 17th, 2015
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Already Medicare spends one out of every five dollars in its budget on people suffering from Alzheimer’s, but in 2050, predictions estimate that could practically double to one out of every three dollars.

One of the things that makes Alzheimers such a costly disease is the fact that it’s a neurodegenerative disease. It progresses slowly and gradually requires more and more care. The cost often starts reasonable enough, but as the years progress it becomes more and more expensive.

In addition, those suffering from Alzheimer’s seldom suffer from that disease alone. According to the President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Harry Johns found that seniors who suffer Alzheimers and diabetes for instance, have 81% higher costs associated with them than those who suffer solely from diabetes.

Harry Johns goes on to illustrate how the “graying of America” could bankrupt the country even with all of the unpaid caregiver hours (which he conservatively estimates at $210 billion). Although Alzheimer’s is not a natural part of aging, “age” is a pivotal factor in developing the disease, and with the first-wave of of Baby Boomers retiring, it’s expected that the number of seniors (aged 65 and older) will double by 2030. Currently, over 5 million people in America suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, but by 2050, as many as 16 million will be affected.

Fortunately, Congress has started to take action and in 2010, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was passed which requires an annually-updated strategic Alzheimer’s Plan. This is intended to show the funding towards Alzheimer’s research over the year and what outcomes and advancements have been made. By measuring these outcomes and advancements, Congress will be more likely to grant more funds towards Alzheimer’s research. Funds are still however, grossly lacking.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) for instance, spends $8 billion cumulatively on cancer and HIV/AIDS, but only $586 million on Alzheimer’s. Considering the projected expenses and the number of people suffering from this fatal disease, more action needs to be taken.

In 2013, even the $80 million in research funds and $20 million in education and outreach sounded like a lot, but it’s small pennies compared to the $20 trillion it would cost over the next 40 years–again, that’s not even counting the unpaid caregiver hours. This projected $20 trillion is including Medicare, Medicaid, out-of-pocket payments, and HMOs.

Further Reading

Remember never to hide your elder’s Alzheimers from the senior housing community. Even if it’s initially more expensive, it’s much better than the alternative. Most senior housing facilities do NOT force a resident to move out if their financial situation changes, however if their health changes then they may not be able to legally provide the right kind of care.

If your elder needs Alzheimer’s care in Bellevue, Seattle, or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, contact our Care Advisors. We’ll help you find the right community for your loved one and ensure that their health is given top priority.

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