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One in Three U.S. Seniors Die with Dementia


A new report found one-in-three seniors in the United States dies with Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia, placing a growing burden on the nation's health care system.

This article published with permission from The Burrill Report.

With a new report finding one-in-three seniors in the United States dies with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association says “urgent, meaningful action is necessary” and called on Congress and the National Institutes of Health to take action.

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the organization says. Without the development of medical breakthroughs that prevent, slow, or stop the disease, by 2050 the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease could reach 13.8 million.

“Alzheimer’s disease steals everything — steadily, relentlessly, inevitably. With baby boomers reaching the age of elevated risk, we do not have time to do what we have always done,” says Robert Egge, vice president of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association. “The National Institutes of Health needs to reset its priorities and focus its resources on the crisis at our doorstep, and Congress must fully fund implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan to solve the crisis.”

The disease is placing a growing burden on the nation’s health care system. The total payments for health and long-term care services for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will total $203 billion in 2013, most of which — $142 billion — will be borne by Medicare and Medicaid. By 2050, total costs are expected to increase five-fold to $1.2 trillion, the report says.

While progress has been made again other major diseases, with significant declines in deaths heart disease, HIV/AIDS and stroke, Alzheimer’s deaths rose 60% from 2000 to 2010. The aging population is fueling a greater incidence of the disease, which the association says remains without a cure or way to slow or stop its progression.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. An estimated 450,000 people in the United States are expected to die with Alzheimer’s in 2013, according to the report. The organization says that among 70-year-olds with Alzheimer’s disease, 61% are expected to die within a decade. Among 70-year-olds without Alzheimer’s, only 30% will die within a decade.

“Unfortunately, today there are no Alzheimer’s survivors,” says Harry Johns, president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you either die from it or die with it.”

Copyright 2013 Burrill & Company. For more life sciences news and information, visit The Burrill Report.

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