Alzheimer's Hits 5.3 Million in US - Report
Some 5.3 million people in the US have Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
The healthcare costs related to Alzheimer's patients are more than triple those of other older people, the association added - and that does not include the many hours of unpaid care provided by family members.
In its annual report on the brain-wasting illness, the group projected that by 2010, nearly a half-million new cases of Alzheimer's will develop each year as the population ages and by 2050 a million new cases will be diagnosed annually.
"Direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer's and other dementias amount to more than $148 billion annually," the group said in a statement.
Behind the high costs associated with treatment is the fact that Alzheimer's patients are much more likely to be hospitalised, than those not suffering from the disease. Their medical costs also often include home nursing care and Medicare-covered home health visits.
Costs likely have grown since then as the U.S population has aged and the number of Alzheimer's diagnoses has risen, said Angela Geiger, the Alzheimer's Association chief strategy officer.
According to the group's report, nearly 10 million caregivers — mostly family members — provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care for Alzheimer's patients last year.
"All of these statistics paint a really grim picture of what's going to happen ... unless we invest in solutions" to delay or prevent the disease, Geiger said.
Between 2000 and 2006, Alzheimer's deaths rose by 47% - while deaths from heart disease, stroke, breast and prostate cancer all declined.
Geiger said those trends reflect improved treatments for other diseases, while there are no treatments that can slow or prevent Alzheimer's.