The Slow Pace Of Alzheimer’s Research Funding
The urgent need for funding of Alzheimer’s research and the need of providing care for those afflicted with the disease is constantly in the news.
In recognition of this urgent need, in 2011 the National Alzheimer's Project Act was put forward in part by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) with then-Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), and it determined that annual research funding of $2 billion was needed to achieve the goal of preventing and treating Alzheimer's by 2025. So what has been accomplished by the act so far?
Will President Trump Fund Alzheimer’s Research?
Around February of 2018 a group of 14 senators led by Senator Collins, founder and co-chair of the Senate Alzheimer's Task Force, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked President Trump to boost funding allocated for Alzheimer's research in the fiscal year 2019 budget request he was to submit.
The group of senators wrote in a letter, “Alzheimer's is one of our nation's leading causes of death, and it is the only one of our nation's deadliest diseases without an effective means of prevention, treatment or cure,” The senators further stated in the letter that “If nothing is done to change the trajectory of Alzheimer's, the number of Americans afflicted with the disease is expected to more than triple by 2050,”
That cost is expected to be up to $1.1 trillion. However the proposed Senate funding bill for FY18 calling for $1.8 billion in funding for Alzheimer's research, an increase of $414 million, has not passed. Instead, legislators have been passing short-term funding measures.
Has then, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act Stalled? As of this report it seems it has.
The enormous cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease
The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is expected increase $20 billion this year compared with last year, totaling more than $277 billion in 2018, according to a report released by the Alzheimer's Association.
The report, “2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” showed that of the $277 billion cost, $186 billion will be paid by Medicare and Medicaid, , $60 billion will be out-of-pocket costs and $30 billion will be related to other costs.
What is perhaps even more startling is that this enormous cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease does not include the cost associated with Unpaid Caregiving. The topic of Unpaid Caregiving is one much discussed here on Senior Home Search.
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 - Alzheimer’s Association
In a sobering statement, Keith Fargo, Ph.D., director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association said “Soaring prevalence, rising mortality rates and lack of an effective treatment all lead to enormous costs to society,” and relating to the effect on all of us he revealed “Alzheimer's is a burden that's only going to get worse.”
What can be done to reduce the tremendous cost of Alzheimer’s care?
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.
Also 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.
How Should We Address The Rising Cost Of Alzheimer’s And Dementia ?
Around the time of the release of this startling information about the rising cost of Alzheimer’s care, a group of 14 senators led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), founder and co-chair of the Senate Alzheimer's Task Force, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have asked President Trump to boost funding allocated for Alzheimer's research in the fiscal year 2019.