Alzheimer’s disease is considered a “national threat,” according to a documentary that will air tonight on Nebraska Public Television.
Mercedes Pitzer, spokeswoman for the Alzheimer’s Association, says the one-hour program highlights the significant and growing burden of the memory-stealing affliction which impacts about one in every nine Nebraskans over the age of 65.
“Many people know that this disease is a unique tragedy, but few know that Alzheimer’s is one of the most critical public health crises facing America,” Pitzer says. “This documentary will illustrate the social and economic implications that are going to be affecting people if we don’t find a cure for it in the near future.”
Due to the length of time people live with Alzheimer’s and their need for care, she says it’s considered the most expensive disease in the country. Pitzer says future costs for Alzheimer’s threaten to bankrupt Medicare, Medicaid and the savings accounts of millions of Americans.
“Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are costing the nation $236-billion, which is crazy,” Pitzer says. “If we’re not going to do anything about it or find a cure, that takes costs up to $1.1-trillion in today’s dollars by mid-century.”
About 5.4-million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including 33,000 Nebraskans, a number that’s expected to nearly triple by 2050 without a cure. Alzheimer’s typically strikes people over the age of 65 but in rare cases, early onset can appear in the late 30s.
The documentary, “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts,” airs tonight at 9 on NET Television.