Alzheimer's costs expected to increase by $20 billion this year

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Alzheimer's costs expected to increase by $20 billion this year
Alzheimer's costs expected to increase by $20 billion this year

The national cost of caring for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias is projected to increase $20 billion this year compared with last year, totaling more than $277 billion in 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association.

Of the total, according to “2018 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures,” $186 billion will be paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, $60 billion will be out-of-pocket costs and $30 billion will be related to other costs. The total does not include costs associated with unpaid caregiving.

“Soaring prevalence, rising mortality rates and lack of an effective treatment all lead to enormous costs to society,” Keith Fargo, Ph.D., director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association, said in a statement. “Alzheimer's is a burden that's only going to get worse.”

Total payments for healthcare, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2018 dollars), according to the association.

Early diagnosis offers benefits

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's during the mild cognitive impairment stage of the disease could save the country as much as $7.9 trillion in healthcare and long-term care expenses, according to an accompanying special report titled “Alzheimer's Disease: Financial and Personal Benefits of Early Diagnosis,” which highlights new economic modeling data.

“The disease is better managed, there are fewer complications from other chronic conditions and unnecessary hospitalizations are avoided,” Fargo said. “The sooner the diagnosis occurs, the sooner these costs can be managed and savings can begin.”

Earlier diagnosis could save individuals approximately $64,000 each, but costs still would average $360,000 per person, according to projections.

Other points made in the reports:

  • Deaths from Alzheimer's disease increased by 123% between 2000 and 2015. By contrast, the number of deaths from heart disease, the top cause of death in the United States, decreased 11% during that time.
  • An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's dementia now, and 5.5 million of this total are people who are at least 65 years old.
  • The number of people aged 65 or more years with Alzheimer's is estimated to increase by almost 29% to 7.1 million by 2025. The number of people aged 65 or more years who have Alzheimer's may almost triple to 13.8 million by 2050, barring the development of medical breakthroughs.

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