March 14, 2019 Herb 0Comment

Last Tuesday, the Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association announced the release of its 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease 2019 Facts and Figures.  The newly released report details both state and national specific statistics, useful to state and federal officials who are hammering out aging policy.

The 90-page report warns that incidents of the Alzheimer’s and other dementias are skyrocketing.  This year, an estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s and related dementia and nearly 14 million will have the disease in 2050.  By 2050, the new report projects the total cost of care reaching over $1.1 trillion.

The 2019 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures report, first released in 2007, provides a compilation of state and national specific costs statistics and information detailing the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias on individuals, families, state and federal government and the nation’s health care system. In 2018, these costs were estimated to be over $ 277 billion.  This year, New Jersey’s Medicaid costs caring of caring for persons with Alzheimer’s is expected to reach $2.090 billion.  The per capita Medicare spending on caring (in 2018 dollars) for New Jersey beneficiaries with this devastating cognitive disorder was $ 30,054.    By 2025, Medicaid costs are expected to increase by 23.7 percent.

Caregivers Provide Millions of Hours in Unpaid Care

New findings from the 2019 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures report, released on March 5, 2019, reveals at the national level, 16. million caregivers provide 18.5 billion hours of care valued at over $ 234 billion to 5.8 million people with cognitive disorders. In New Jersey, the report noted that 448,000 caregivers provide an estimated 511,000,000 hours of unpaid care taking care of 180,000 persons with Alzheimer’s.   The total value of unpaid care of these caregivers is $ 6,455,000,000.

According to Facts and Figures, in 2017, in the Garden State there were 2,829 deaths from Alzheimer’s and 7,459 of patients in hospice had a primary diagnosis of dementia.

Although the 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures provides the latest national stats on Alzheimer’s prevalence, incidence, mortality, costs of care, and impact on caregivers, it also takes a close look at awareness, attitudes, and utilization of brief cognitive assessments (obtained by asking questions, observations, input from family and friends, or short verbal or written tests given in a clinical setting), among seniors age  65 and older and primary care physicians.

“While it’s encouraging to see that the vast majority of seniors and physicians understand the value of brief cognitive assessments, we’re still seeing a significant gap in those that actually pursue, perform or discuss these assessments during routine exams,” said Joanne Pike, Dr.P.H., chief program officer for the Alzheimer’s Association in a statement released with this report. “Early detection of cognitive decline offers numerous medical, social, emotional, financial and planning benefits, but these can only be achieved by having a conversation with doctors about any thinking or memory concerns and through routine cognitive assessments.,” says Pike.

Early Detection of Alzheimer’s  

“The Alzheimer’s Association is working to help educate physicians on best practices for conducting brief cognitive assessments and to ensure that all seniors understand what to expect from an assessment, as well as how to navigate an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and care planning when needed,” said Pike. “As the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s continues to increase, we need to detect the disease early and give individuals the best opportunity to plan for the future,” she says.

Pike adds, “The findings indicate there are missed opportunities for seniors to discuss cognitive concerns and problems in the exam room. We hope the report will encourage seniors and physicians both to be more proactive in discussing cognitive health during the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit and other routine exams,” she says.

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