A new report finds the number of Nebraskans with Alzheimer’s disease is rising along with the costs.
Carol Sipfle, spokeswoman for the Alzheimer’s Association, says 33,000 Nebraskans now have the memory-stealing disease, with projections showing it’ll be 35,000 by 2020 and 40,000 by 2025, an increase of 21-percent.
“People generally are living longer so there are essentially more old people to get Alzheimer’s disease,” Sipfle says, “and aging is the highest risk factor for Alzheimer’s.”
Alzheimer’s disease most often strikes Nebraskans over the age of 65, while those age 85 and older account for nearly half the cases. Some 515 Nebraskans will die this year from Alzheimer’s, the state’s sixth-leading cause of death.
The impact of the disease goes well beyond those who have it. The report projects the national cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patients and other patients with dementia will reach $259-billion this year. In Nebraska, the cost of care this year is estimated to reach $310-million.
“It’s staggering, in part, because there’s no known way to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s,” Sipfle says. “All of those costs are really put into caregiving and just trying to help the person with the disease live a comfortable life.”
Sipfle says the positive news is there is a lot of research underway.
Some of the trends in research are to look for biomarkers, chemicals in the blood to detect Alzheimer’s disease or changes in the brain long before the symptoms are identified. That’s encouraging, she says, as if those biomarkers can be identified, the next step is developing medications that can slow the onset.
To learn more, call 800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org.