With Alzheimer’s affecting more people than ever, being the second largest contributing factor to death after heart disease, it is becoming an increasingly important issue. For patients 65 and older, health care costs are expected to increase from $203 billion to $1.2 trillion by 2050. Medicare payments are 19 times higher for patients suffering with dementia than those who are not. Health care costs for hospitals, hospices, and homes is estimated to result in more than a $9 billion increase.
Once Alzheimer’s symptoms appear, the damage has already been done. Because the damage begins ten, twenty years before any symptoms occur, when doctors see patients with Alzheimer’s, there is little to be done. Because of the nature of this disease, experts say the funding for Alzheimer’s research must be increased. In opposition to the multiple billions of dollars spent on research for HIV, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, Alzheimer’s research receives only $529 million in federal funding.
While Alzheimer’s may not be more important than other diseases, it is cl;early as important with the number of affected patients in the US estimated to reach 14 billion by 2050. Because of the nature of the disease, treatment must happen now. If we hit 2050 and have 14 billion Alzheimer’s patients, no matter how much money is thrown at the problem, there will be no help for those 14 billion. Since the damage occurs progressively over time, this issue needs to be addressed now, before the situation gets worse.
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