The news about Alzheimer’s disease is just not good.
Here is the latest unpleasant fact to sink your teeth into: One in three seniors in the United States dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
That’s what the Alzheimer’s Association announced this week when it released its “2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report.
According to the report, while deaths from other major diseases — such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS and stroke — continue to experience steep declines, Alzheimer’s deaths continue to rise. They have increasing 68 percent from 2000 to 2010.
“Unfortunately, today there are no Alzheimer’s survivors,” Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement. “If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you either die from it or die with it. Now we know that one in three 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.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the Alzheimer’s Association described it as the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.
Using 2010 data, Alzheimer’s was reported as the underlying cause of death for 83,494 individuals — individuals who died from Alzheimer’s. And this year an estimated 450,000 people in the United States will die with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
“The true number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s is likely to be somewhere between the officially reported number of those dying from and those dying with Alzheimer’s,” the group said in a press release.
According to “2013 Facts and Figures,” a recent study evaluated the contribution of individual common diseases to death using a nationally representative sample of older adults.
The study found that dementia was the second largest contributor to death behind heart failure.
Here’s another frightening statistic: Among 70-year-olds with Alzheimer’s disease, 61 percent are expected to die within a decade. Among 70-year-olds without Alzheimer’s, only 30 percent will die within a decade.
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.
“Without the development of medical breakthroughs that prevent, slow or stop the disease, by 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease could reach 13.8 million,” the Alzheimer’s Association said. “Previous estimates suggest that number could be high as 16 million.”
Last year more than 15 million caregivers provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion. To those with Alzheimer’s.
Due to the physical and emotional toll of care-giving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $9.1 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2012, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
It “2013 Facts and Figures” report said that the total payments for health and long-term care services for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will total $203 billion this year,with a huge part of that coming from Medicare and Medicaid, with combined costs of $142 billion.
“Despite these staggering figures today, by 2050 total costs will increase 500 percent to $1.2 trillion,” the Alzheimer’s Association said.
“Alzheimer’s disease steals everything – steadily, relentlessly, inevitably. With baby boomers reaching the age of elevated risk, we do not have time to do what we have always done,” Robert Egge, vice president of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement.
“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.”
What sane person can disagree with that?