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 Alzheimer’s Grim Bill Continues to Mount, Association Finds in New Report

​Dementia will cost some $203 billion in health and long term care costs in 2013, the Alzheimer’s Association reports.

Most of the costs will be borne by the public, with Medicare and Medicaid combining to pay $142 billion in 2013 for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, the association says in its annual Facts and Figures report, released earlier this week.

Medicare alone was responsible for more than half of dementia’s costs, with $107 billion; Medicaid took care of another 17 percent, or $35 billion; patients spent $34 billion in out-of-pocket expenses and insurance, HMOs, managed care, or other sources accounted for 13 percent of the costs, or $27 billion, the association reports.

“Alzheimer’s disease steals everything—steadily, relentlessly, inevitably,” association Vice President Robert Egge said in announcing his group’s findings. “The National Institutes of Health needs to reset its priorities and focus its resources on the crisis at our doorstep, and Congress must fully fund implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan to solve the crisis.”

By 2050, the figures are expected to increase 500 percent, to $1.2 trillion, the association says in its fact sheet.

And these figures may be only part of the costs, the association reported. Last year alone, 15 million people—families or friends of the afflicted—provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care for dementia patients. That labor could be worth up to $216 billion, the association says.

Dementia’s bill is even starker in human terms, the association says. Alzheimer’s disease deaths increased 68 percent from 2000-10, the association says, and it’s continuing to rise. In 2010, Alzheimer’s disease was a direct cause of death for 83,494 Americans, the association says. Some 450,000 will die with Alzheimer’s disease before the calendar flips to 2014, the association says.

Among 70-year-olds with Alzheimer’s disease, 61 percent will die within a decade; for 70-year-olds without Alzheimer’s, only 30 percent will die within a decade, the association reports.

The association used its annual report as a chance to press for more funding to stop the disease.

“Unfortunately, today there are no Alzheimer’s survivors. If you have Alzheimer's disease, you either die from it or die with it,” said Harry Johns, president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Now we know that 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Urgent, meaningful action is necessary, particularly as more and more people age into greater risk for developing a disease that today has no cure and no way to slow or stop its progression.
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