Dramatic rise in Alzheimer's victims expected

Experts say the nation faces a financial and health care crisis as the number of patients with the incurable disease soars.

By Bruce Kennedy Feb 8, 2013 9:45AM

Image: Senior man in wheelchair looking out window (Tetra Images/Getty Images)Startling statistics suggest the country may be blindsided by a major health and financial crisis over the next several decades as baby boomers become more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease.


A new study published in the journal Neurology says the number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple over the next 40 years to about 13.8 million by 2050, with about half of that group age 85 and older.


The Alzheimer’s Association estimates the costs for care related to the disease at $200 billion last year, according to The Los Angeles Times, with $140 billion of that paid by Medicare and Medicaid. The group says that by 2050, that cost will soar to $1 trillion annually.


The unexpectedly large number of Alzheimer’s patients “will place a huge burden on society, disabling more people who develop the disease, challenging their caregivers, and straining medical and social safety nets,” said study co-author Jennifer Weuve, an assistant professor of medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.


One in eight older Americans is living with the mentally debilitating and incurable disease. And the Alzheimer’s Association says more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care, valued at $210 billion, for persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.


"These projections are based on assumptions that we don't have a cure at this point, and people may be living longer going forward,” Dallas Anderson of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, told Reuters.


The search for the cure, meanwhile, is underway. The National Alzheimer’s Project Act was signed into law by President Obama in early 2011 -- and the president’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal includes $100 million in additional funding for Alzheimer’s research, caregiver support, awareness, education and outreach.


But so far, the pharmaceutical companies have had no breakthroughs when it comes to a drug that might do anything more than treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Firms like Pfizer (PFE), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Eli Lilly (LLY) have all reported failures over the last year or so in their search for Alzheimer’s treatments.


Craig Ritchie, an Alzheimer's researcher at Imperial College in London, told the Independent that the global recession is forcing many of those companies to streamline their neuroscience departments. “One can understand why,” he said last year. “But it is hugely disappointing because there is massive unmet need.”


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Feb 8, 2013 10:27AM
 My father passed away from this ugly disease and I always wonder if it is lingering inside me. He knew about the disease and had seen it ravage people over his lifetime. When he received the diagnosis that he was in the early stage of the disease, he knew exactly what was coming.  He later pulled me aside at home and he and I had an incredibly candid discussion of his wishes as he degraded while he was still "dad."  I didn't fully appreciate the strength and depth of the gift of that conversation until years later when he was in the final stages of the disease.

 He made it clear that he did not want us killing ourselves trying to keep him at home, and that when the time came to put him into nursing care we should do so and not think twice about it. We still put it off longer than we should have, but he only lived about 2 months in there as his health was also failing in other ways. When we had to move dad in, it was executing his instructions. It also made the discussion with my sister easier as she wanted to keep him home, until I told her of the details of that conversation years before. It transferred the stress and guilt we faced from us and back to him, as it was clear that was specifically what he wanted. Again, that conversation was a tremendous gift to us.  

That was my main incentive for purchasing long term health care in my early fifties. Costs are less than 4 grand a year/won't increase but is indexed to inflation so payout increases - a flexible policy that has options for in home care. I've also had the same conversation with my now adult children and spouse. Hoping to avoid it 25 years or so down the road and won't mind if we never collect a dime. But if I it happens, the stress of the decision is off of my family and their finances won't be destroyed.  Thanks for the lesson dad/hope to follow your example one last time.

Feb 8, 2013 12:21PM
henrou...that was an amazing and uplifting post!!  May all of us be as forward-thinking as your Dad was.  Truly a final act of compassion and a good example for all of us baby-boomers.
Feb 8, 2013 2:33PM
It amazes me that a story and a wonderful very personal post (henrou) that has nothing to do with politics - becomes a left-right issue - I'm a conservative baby boomer but I would never think to comment on this other than to say we all need to plan for and with our off-spring what our hopes and desires are for in our waning days.  
oh! I forgot! (no joke intended) - not to mention the loooong lists of side effects that accompany the drugs we take today.
Feb 8, 2013 4:57PM

Boyd Haley did research that implicated a strong link between mercury exposure and Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Mercola's website had an article on January 28, 3013 called: " What is Chlorella for?" with a video link interview with Dr. Chris Shade in which Dr. Shade explains the mechanism that mercury utilized to disrupt the tubulin enzyme in the brain to create Alzheimer's type brain damage.

Unfortunately, the brain damage is quite significant by the time that the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease starts to emerge. The best hope for us today is to avoid mercury exposure and try to detoxify our bodies before it is too late. The doctors Mercola and Shade both recommend to avoid mercury fillings, most fish some vaccines and possibly living downwind near a coal fired power plant since these are the major routes of mercury exposure in order of amount. They also recommend having the silver mercury amalgam fillings carefully removed and replaced by safer filling types by a qualified expert dentist.

Since my mother died from Alzheimer's disease I am very certain that I don't want to go that way. I have been doing some research and getting some medical news letters since she got sick in order to understand the risk factors and precautionary measures that may reduce my chances of acquiring this horrible disease.

It looks to me like the best things one can do to avoid Alzheimer's disease are fairly common sense. Just clean up the body, stay physically fit and eat lots of organic green vegetables or their freshly made juice. Avoiding mental stressors is also highly recommended since stress hormones create inflammation brain damage just like toxins and other pathogens.

I recently had my silver fillings removed and replaced with composite fillings for a few thousand dollars. That was a bargain if it helps delay or helps me to prevent Alzheimer's disease. They also look better since the old fillings were tarnished. I can only hope that I had them removed in time.

My dentist refused to remove them at first. I had to tell him that I wanted them replaced with tooth colored fillings for cosmetic reasons.

Since then I read that dentists are being threatened by the authorities for replacing mercury fillings just because they have mercury in them. That's just as crazy sounding to me as the fact that doctors lost their licenses for washing their hands before delivering babies in the olden days. Apparently the authorities did not want a sudden drop in women dying during childbirth to implicate their profession in the prior unnecessary deaths (thus resulting in possible liability law suits). Eventually the authorities gave the doctors legal immunity and the doctors started washing their hands. Childbirth deaths plummeted in number.


The choice is simple. Either do nothing different, trust the authorities and hope for the best or else be proactive to defend your health. A trillion dollars will be made off of the people who do nothing (and the taxpayers) according to the article. Do you really think that all of the people who are in line to make that trillion dollars are in any real hurry to "find the cure" that stops them form getting any more of  that money?

The Pharmaceutical companies tell us that the cost of prescriptions are high because they need the money for research.  Then they streamline their departments because of global economy. The figures above show the company stocks to be less than one half of a percent.lower.  If they could only find a little altruism for research and not worship the almighty dollar first, maybe we could see some research progress - or maybe we have just poisoned our brains with all of the artificial chemicals and preservatives that the food industry uses (to make more money), and there is no cure possible.  God help us all. 
Feb 10, 2013 1:58PM
Helping the cure of Alzheimer's can also help cure the development of "dementia's" progress. Although Alzheimer's is a disease without a cure it can be retarded as I have read in many new reports. Dementia although not as reported with any sufficient research.  As everything I have read and heard in clinics leads to retardation to dementia with success to real limitations to progressions of dementia; such as the retrieval of information, as is the problem with dementia in the brain, can be successful in hindering development of the brain's aging process.  Alzheimer's is a confusion in the intake of information and processing and filing the information for retrieval to speech.  The processes between the two is seemingly slight, but is not. And, diagnosis can only be done properly by an expert in both; and with knowledge of the physical difference.  Donations to our cause, as we will in all probability be affected by it is a great help to all of us.  And, can be sent to your local Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association in your State.
Feb 8, 2013 2:09PM
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