The first time you look in a parent’s eyes and they stare back with threads of recognition but unsure about your name or position in their past, present or future life, you can no longer deny the existence of Alzheimer’s Disease, one of the most sinister of senior health diseases. Anyone experiencing the scene above is likely to be devastated. Imagine how it is for the parent, who the very next day, may know precisely who you are and how dear you are to them.
“No matter who you are, what you’ve accomplished, what your financial situation is – when you’re dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s, you yourself feel helpless. The parent can’t work, can’t live alone, and is totally dependent, like a toddler. As the disease unfolds, you don’t know what to expect.” – Maria Shriver
As Alzheimer’s Disease claims more victims every day, the effects are paralyzing; to the sufferer, to the family and to the lifestyles of caregivers and patients. In the beginning, many children and loved ones hold out in the belief the condition will not escalate but the odds are against the sufferer from the outset.
“It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases – one was Alzheimer’s, and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer’s.” – Terry Pratchett
Alzheimer’s Disease Statistics Cannot Be Overlooked
This highly personal, devastating disease has migrated to the forefront of senior concerns and to long-term, senior living planning. When planning long-term care, the possibility of Alzheimer’s and the need for highly personalized caregiving must be discussed, strategized, budgeted and incorporated in the plan.
The increase in dedicated Memory Care programs in US Assisted Living communities is one example of how the health and medical industries have responded to the Alzheimer’s – Dementia crisis. Statistics presented by the CDC and the Alzheimer’s Association underscore the need to consider the possibility of one or more variations of memory disorders when making critical decisions about senior care.
- In 2016, the Alzheimer’s Association projects that about 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s Disease.
- 5.2 million Alzheimer’s Disease sufferers are 65 years of age of older.
- By 2050, someone in the US will develop Alzheimer’s every 30 seconds and the number of sufferers will increase to 13.8 million Americans.
- The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 61 percent of the nation’s 70-year old Alzheimer’s sufferers will die before age 80. That figure amounts to twice the fatality rate by age 80 for non-Alzheimer’s patients (30 percent).
Alzheimer’s Disease is real, debilitating and dangerous. As disturbing as these figures are, the toll on American families and caregivers is equally foreboding.
Undeniable Alzheimer’s Caregiving and Family Statistics
Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers are capable of unexpected behavior that can be erratic and risky. From an unextinguished burner to unsafe walking to Sundowner Syndrome and even increased alcohol consumption, many Alzheimer’s Disease sufferers need round the clock care. Caregiving for these volatile personalities can be daunting and exhausting, even for caregiving professionals. The toll on American families is telling.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports these statistics:
- 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid caregiving the Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in 2015.
- Women dominate the caregiving landscape with about two thirds of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers being women.
- The average lost income by American Alzheimer’s patient caregivers is about $15,000 per year and many family caregivers are forced to leave their jobs to become full-time caregivers.
- Caregivers rate the stress levels as high or very high. Approximately 40 percent suffer depression.
Economic Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease
Immediate and future projections about Alzheimer’s Disease are overwhelming and put a heavy emphasis on the need to plan ahead.
- Alzheimer’s-related health care, long term care and hospice costs will top $236 billion in 2016. Less than half that figure will be borne by Medicare.
- Medicaid and Medicare will cover about 68 percent of Alzheimer’s care costs, leaving a hefty 38 percent unaccounted.
- By 2025, projections are that Alzheimer’s care will top $1 trillion in the US with Medicare forced to come to grips with a 360 percent increase.
One startling reality about the cost of Alzheimer’s is that offspring in caregiving positons are often forced to cut back on their own daily necessities, including food allowances and medical care in order to help the sufferer. As imposing as the prospect of Alzheimer’s Disease can be, the prospect becomes more daunting when the family long term care plan does not consider the possibility this disease will strike at least one family member. Please add Alzheimer’s Disease to family discussions about senior care.