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Alzheimers soars in Seniors

Who do you know with Alzheimers?

Health Day News reported on Tuesday this week that a new study suggests that one in three seniors now dies while suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. According to reports, Alzheimers disease rose 68 percent from 2000 to 2010, while death from other types of diseases such as AIDS and heart disease are on the decline.

According to Beth Kallmyer, the VP of constituent services for the Alzheimers Association, Alzheimer’s is now a public health crisis. She argues that much of the issue could be that there has been less government commitment to funding research for this growing disease, while other diseases such as AIDS or heart disease have had adequate funding.

According to Kallmyer, the current budget for research for Alzheimers is $500 million. Heart disease receives about $4 billion in research funding and cancer gets about $6 billion, she said.

Another toll of the disease, one many people don’t talk about, is the growing cost for families to care for family members who have this debilitating disease. According to reports, in 2012, “more than 15 million people were Alzheimers caregivers. They provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care that the Alzheimer's group estimated was valued at $216 billion.”

Unfortunately, with the high cost of medical care many caretakers lack adequate medical treatment for this condition. Another issue for caregivers is the cost to travel to their relatives suffering with this condition. If you are trying to care for a loved one long-distance you will have increased out of pocket and travel costs; some estimates suggest the cost of care could be twice as high for caregivers who do not live close to the suffering relative.

Regardless if you live near or far from your loved one the drain can be financial, emotional and physical. But the economic costs are staggering. The report estimates that “the cost of caring for the 5 million people with Alzheimers disease is about $203 billion, including Medicare, Medicaid, family costs and private insurance costs.”

With increasing medical costs this price tag is likely to sky-rocket. In fact estimates for treating this disease in the future are as high as $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Medical physicians acknowledge that most people will eventually be affected by the disease. Either they will be a sufferer themselves or they will be responsible for caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Medical experts suggest that most of the needed research should be done to determine how to prevent this disease.

How do I prevent Alzheimers?

It’s really the same old story: take care of yourself. This is a chronic illness and preventative measures include not smoking, exercising, maintaining your weight, eating a balanced diet, and keeping your heart strong. Experts also suggest mental exercises such as reading, crossword puzzles and Sudoku can help keep your brain sharp. Socially active people also have a lower risk of developing this debilitating disease.

Everyone acknowledges that incidence of Alzheimers is likely to increase in the coming years as the baby boomers age.
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