May 4, 2009
Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease costs more than three times what it does for the average older person, a new report found. And those costs do not even take into account the many unpaid hours contributed by family members and other caregivers. The average cost for an Alzheimer's patient was over $33,000 a year, based on 2004 costs, versus about $10,600 for someone without the disease.
The report, from the Alzheimer's Association, found that people with Alzheimer's are much more likely to require home health aides. They are also more likely to enter hospitals and nursing homes.
Other interesting statistics from the report:
*There are 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer's.
*Every 70 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer's disease; by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer's every 33 seconds.
*By 2010, there will be nearly a half million new cases of Alzheimer's each year.
*By 2050, there will be nearly a million new cases per year unless a cure is found.
In addition to the high medical costs of Alzheimer's, the report found that nearly 10 million people, mostly family members, provide unpaid help for someone with Alzheimer's. That adds up to a total of 8.5 billion volunteer hours per year.
Cases of Alzheimer's are also on the rise. From 2000 to 2006, deaths from heart disease, stroke, breast and prostate cancer declined. But cases of Alzheimer's, now the fifth leading killer, rose 47 percent.
Much of the reason for the rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer's is the growing aged population. Currently available medications like Aricept, Exelon and Namenda may ease symptoms for a time, but they do not stop the downward progression of disease.