Florida’s dementia epidemic: new figures just released by the National Alzheimer’s Association

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Today, the National Alzheimer’s Association released its 2013 Facts and Figures, showing the magnitude and growth of this disease nationally and in Florida, and detailing the extensive costs that this disease levies on federal and state health care systems, and on families.

Based on this report:

About 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and up to 16 million will have the disease by 2050.

Florida is second only to California in the number of residents with Alzheimer’s.

It is estimated that approximately 450,000 Floridians were living with Alzheimer’s in 2010, an increase of 25% from 2000. It is expected that 510,000 will be afflicted by 2020 — an increase of 42%, and that 590,000 will be afflicted by 2025 — an increase of 64%.  

Alzheimer’s as a cause of death has increased by 68% over the last decade.  Approximately 4,831 Floridians died of Alzheimer’s in 2010. This is the 6th leading cause of death nationally, although in reality these figures may be much higher based on nuances in death certificate reporting.  One-in-three seniors die with Alzheimer’s, if not from it.

This is the only leading cause of death for is no known prevention or cure.  In contrast, stroke decreased by 23% during this time, breast cancer by 2%, heart disease by 16% and HIV by 42%.

The costs of this Alzheimer’s are extraordinary — to state and federal health systems, not to mention to individuals and their families.

Annual health care payments for people with Alzheimer’s are three times greater than payments for others in the same age group. For Medicare, these figures are an average of $45,657 for those with dementia compared with $14,452 per person for those without. 

Aggregate payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for people with Alzheimer’s are projected to increase from $203 billion in 2013 to $1.2 trillion in 2050.

Medicare covers about 53% ($107 billion) of care for American’s over age 65 with Alzheimer’s, while state Medicaid programs and families each cover about 17% ($35 billion and $34 billion, respectively).

Today in Florida there are over 1 million unpaid family caregivers for persons with Alzheimer’s, carrying a cost of $14.3 million in unpaid care, and a cost of $630 million in higher health costs that these caregivers themselves incur.

As the Florida Legislature considers the state’s health and human services budget, adequate inclusion of respite care is a must — this provides much needed support to families but also mitigates greater impacts on the state economy.

Respite care helps keep patients out of far more expensive institutional care, buffers against greater health problems among caregivers, and allows many to continue to work while keeping their family member at home.

On a side note, check out this commercial that has just been released for Exelon Patch, a drug by Novartis for those with mild/moderate Alzheimer’s: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7Iin/exelon-patch-messages#moreData.  Of course, I’m partial to it… it features my sister and father, a real-life early stage Alzheimer’s patient.