- Every 66 Seconds. Nearly every minute of every single day, another person in the United States develops Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Approximately 480,000 people age 65 or older will develop Alzheimer’s in the United States in 2017.
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of death for people ages 65 and older.
- Deaths from Alzheimer’s have gone up 89% over the past fourteen years, compared to deaths from heart disease, stroke and HIV have dropped over that same period.
In recent years, Alzheimer’s Disease shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top leading causes of death whose progression is not able to be slowed down, cured or stopped. The disease currently affects 5.5 million Americans and that number could grow to 16 million by 2050.
The financial burden of Alzheimer’s is overwhelming. The amount spent on caring for those with the disease is expected to reach $259 billion in 2017, according to a recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association. This amount includes health care, long-term care and hospice care. It is projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050. In addition, despite support from Medicare and Medicaid, individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias incur higher out-of-pocket costs. The average per-person out-of-pocket costs for seniors with Alzheimer’s are five times higher than seniors without these conditions.
Care giving is another obstacle for Alzheimer’s patients. Not only are there paid caregivers, it is estimated that more than 15 million Americans, primarily women, provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This includes physical care, emotional and financial support. In 2016 alone, it is estimated that Alzheimer’s caregivers provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care with an estimated value of $230.1 billion.
Not surprisingly, caring for those with Alzheimer’s takes a toll on the health of a care giver. It produces serious physical and mental health consequences including depression and anxiety. It is reported that 35% of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia report their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities compared with 19% of caregivers to older American’s without dementia.
As far as treatment for the condition, there are four approved drugs that treat the symptoms of the disease. More recently, several hopeful treatments failed key studies over the last few months.
On a positive note, despite the current and projected outlook for 2050, there may be hopeful news on the horizon.
Scientists recently made an important discovery in searching for the cause of the disease. Published online in the journal Translational Psychiatry, scientists discovered that a decrease in glucose in the brain could be the first risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. These declining energy levels are a direct trigger for the cognitive impairments associated with Alzheimer’s.
It is promising to note that the same team who discovered this fact are searching for a solution to stop the decline in glucose which could potentially prevent Alzheimer’s. Per the study, a protein known as p38 may be able to prevent the deprivation from occurring. According to the research, p38 is naturally made in the body as a response to glucose deprivation. Future research will investigate p38’s role in memory impairments.
There are studies taking place through the Flinders University in Adelaide Australia in partnership with a research team at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and University of California, Irvine in an effort to create a drug that could prevent brain protein buildup, the main trademark of Alzheimer’s. These findings could lead to a vaccine against Alzheimer’s by 2022.
University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) is preparing for a groundbreaking study to learn how to prevent Alzheimer’s. They are seeking hundreds of participants age 65 and over who are cognitively well but may have a family history of the disease. The study will use a new approach to target amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s. Study participants will receive an IV infusion with a drug that could remove the protein, thus preventing Alzheimer’s. Dr. David Geldmacher, a UAB neurology professor, said the study is designed to prevent the underlying problem and remove the disease from the brain. They plan to have 1,000 participants for the three-year study.
We hope that someday Alzheimer’s is a disease of the past. We will certainly stay updated on new developments with this promising research. We hope that those afflicted with Alzheimer’s will someday have a cure.
Financial Voyages is hosting a seminar titled, The Alzheimer’s Tsunami – Preparing for the Worst, hosted by Jack Broyles. This no obligation free seminar is open to the public. It will be held on Wednesday, May 3rd at 6:00 pm at the Marriott Courtyard in Lansdale, PA. Registration is available at http://financialvoyages.com/educational-events-2-2/ or by calling 215.256.7845.
For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association, please visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 helpline at 800.272.3900.
For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers, please visit https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/alzheimers-disease-research-centers
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Alzheimer’s Association, “New Alzheimer’s Association Report Shows Growing Cost and Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on Nation’s Families and Economy, March 7, 2017.
“Here’s how much the US Spends on Alzheimer’s disease, Business Insider, March 7, 2017.
Moorer, Brit, “UAB Researchers working to stop Alzheimer’s, seeking hundreds of study participants,” CBS42, March 16, 2017.
Practico D, Lauretti E, Di Meco A. ”Glucose deficit triggers tau pathology and synaptic dysfunction in a tauopathy mouse model.” Translational Psychiatry, 2017.