Policymakers should consider more ways to improve senior living-related services and supports for people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to RAND Corporation researchers.
The annual costs of dementia care could more than double by 2040 if the age-specific prevalence rate of the disease remains constant as the nation’s population grows older. U.S. policymakers have made funding for clinical responses to dementia a priority.
“The majority of Americans’ cost-burden for dementia is caused by long-term care,” said Regina A. Shih, the study’s lead author. “As baby boomers reach the ages of highest dementia risk, the nation faces urgency in finding ways to improve long-term services and supports specifically for this condition.
The study lays out five general goals:
- Increase public awareness of dementia to reduce stigma and promote earlier detection.
- Improve access to and use of long-term services and supports for people with dementia.
- Promote high-quality care that is focused on meeting the needs of individuals and family caregivers.
- Provide better support for family members who provide caregiving to people with dementia.
- Reduce the financial burden placed upon individuals and families who must pay for long-term services and support for people with dementia.
New legislation or changes to existing regulations may be needed to authorize some policies, such as a proposed expansion of home and community-based services. Other barriers may be operational, such as logistical challenges to linking together long-term care insurance and health insurance. In some instances, barriers may be political, such as expected opposition by some groups to a single-payer long-term care insurance system.
“There is no one single path that is the best one to follow to provide better care for people with dementia and improve support for their caregivers,” Shih said.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia among older people. About 4.5 million Americans suffer from this debilitating condition.