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  • The Facts about Alzheimer’s - Fact Sheets and Charts

    • The Alzheimer’s Health Crisis

      What is Alzheimer's disease?

      Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually is fatal. It is also the most common cause of dementia in older people. [1]

      Who has Alzheimer's disease?

      Experts suggest that 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's, and there are over 15 million unpaid caregivers of Alzheimer's patients within the US. The number of individuals with Alzheimer's is expected to almost triple, approaching 13.5 million, in the next few decades. [2] Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans. [3]

      Without a cure, Alzheimer's is expected to cost the U.S. $2 trillion by 2020 and have a devastating impact on families who often bear the brunt of the disease

      Alzheimer's has a disproportionate impact on members of the African American and Hispanic communities, who are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. African Americans are about twice as likely, and Hispanics are about 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than are Caucasians for reasons not yet understood. [4]

      What causes Alzheimer's disease?

      Scientists still have not determined the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease, but studies on plaque and tangles of the nerves within the brain are being conducted. Most people develop "late-onset" Alzheimer's in their 60s. There is no cure for Alzheimer's yet, but there are prescriptions that may temporarily slow the progression of the disease. [5]

      What are the costs associated with Alzheimer's disease?

      More than $200 billion is spent annually treating Alzheimer's, which is more than 400 times the amount spent on finding a cure. [6]

      The average annual payments per person for health care, services, and Medicare for beneficiaries aged 65 or older with Alzheimer's is $43,847, which is more than three times greater than Medicare pays for individuals without Alzheimer's and dementia. The reason for this cost difference is that the loss of memory due to the disease makes it more likely the victim will otherwise not be able to care for himself. [7]

      Every year, American taxpayers spend $200 billion on Medicare and Medicaid expenses related to Alzheimer's. If substantial progress is not made in stopping Alzheimer's, Medicare and Medicaid spending will reach $1.1 trillion in today's dollars by 2050. [8]

      Medicaid payments alone are more than nine times higher for those with Alzheimer's compared to those without. The cost difference is attributed to the institutional care that is necessary in the later stages of the disease due to total dependence. More than 50% of nursing home residents have Alzheimer's disease.

      Who funds Alzheimer's research?

      The National Institute of Health (NIH) invests over $31.2 billion annually in medical research for the American people. That figure excludes the "one time" appropriation of $10 billion awarded to the NIH through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In FY 2011, about $448million was devoted to research related to Alzheimer's disease. ARRA allocated $10 billion specifically to the NIH. Of that, some of the special initiatives went specifically to Alzheimer's disease research.[9] ,[10]

      The Alzheimer's Association International Grant Program has been a major private source of funding. Since awarding its first grants in 1982, the Association has grown into the largest private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer's research, awarding more than $265 million to 1,800 best-of-field grant proposals over the last 28 years. [11]

      Is there any current legislation or federal policy to address Alzheimer's disease?

      Legislation will be added as it is introduced in the current Congress. In 2012, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its proposal to increase federal funding for Alzheimer's research by $80 million as one of the concrete steps in support of the United States' first-ever National Plan to Address Alzheimer's by 2025. The plan establishes five ambitious goals to both prevent future cases of Alzheimer's disease and to better meet the needs of the millions of American families currently facing this disease: 1. Prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's disease by 2025; 2. Optimize care, quality and efficiency; 3. Expand supports for people with Alzheimer's disease and their families; 4. Enhance public awareness and engagement; 5. Track progress and drive improvement.


      • [1] National Institute on Aging. "Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet"; July 2011. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/adfact.htm
      • [2] Alzheimer's Association. "Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer's Disease: A National Imperative," 2010. Available at: http://www.alz.org/documents_custom/trajectory.pdf
      • [3] Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2010. National vital statistics reports, vol. 60, no. 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2012.
      • [8] The Alzheimer's Study Group. "A National Alzheimer's Strategic Plan: The Report of the Alzheimer's Study Group"; March 25, 2009.
      • [10] National Institutes of Health. "NIH Budget"; May 18, 2010. Available at: http://www.nih.gov/about/budget.htm#note
      • [12] OpenCongress "Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act of 2011." Available at: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h1897/show
      • [13] OpenCongress "H.O.P.E for Alzheimer's Act." Available at: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s738/show
      • [14] OpenCongress "MIND Act." Available at: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h610/show
    • Cost Savings and the Price of Inaction

      What are we up against?

      Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive, degenerative brain disease that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.

      Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and the only disease in the top ten with no disease-modifying treatment or cure. There are currently 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s – a number that is expected to triple in the coming decades.

      For every dollar the federal government spends today on the costs of Alzheimer’s care, it invests less than a penny in research to find a cure.

      The Financial Strain

      In 2011, American taxpayers spent $200 billion caring for those with Alzheimer’s (more than 400 times the amount spent on finding a cure). By 2050, the annual cost of Alzheimer’s (to families, insurers, and the government) is projected to explode to over $1 trillion.

      Within ten years, we will spend more than $2 trillion on care for Alzheimer’s victims.

      The average family caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s can expect to spend $215,000 throughout the entire course of the disease ($40,000 for direct costs; $175,000 for indirect costs).

      There are nearly 15 million Americans who currently provide care for a person with Alzheimer’s.

      The Price of Inaction

      In August 2011, the challenge of lowering the national debt by $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years caused the United States to come within one day of financial default. No one noted during the debate, however, that over the same 10-year period, the country will be forced to spend another $2 trillion caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s disease.

      The cost of this care will negate any gains made from government deficit reduction efforts. For the health of our nation’s economy and seniors, we cannot afford or accept this two-steps-forward, two-steps-back approach.

      Can we stop Alzheimer’s by 2020?

      Yes. The research community believes it is possible to prevent or control the disease within ten years with a disciplined strategy that is adequately funded. To succeed, we need a political strategy that ensures that elected officials and lawmakers make fighting Alzheimer’s a national priority and implement a clear plan for a cure.

      USAgainstAlzheimer’s believes strongly that through bipartisan support for innovative ideas that cut through government bureaucracy and streamline funding for research, we can end Alzheimer’s as we know it by 2020.

    • Alzheimer’s Disease Projections

    • NIH Research Funding

    • Change in Number of Deaths

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