Potential Alzheimer’s Epidemic Fuels Concerns about Costs of Care

The number of patients with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach epic proportions in upcoming years – a dire prediction that is causing many to worry about the costs of care for those with the disease. According to an article in USA Today, a government-funded report estimates that the number of people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease will almost triple by the year 2050, which will cause significant strains on the health care system, including Social Security programs and Medicare, as well as caregivers and patients.

The report speculates that the number of Americans afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease will increase from about 5 million to 13.8 million by 2050. The increase is largely due to the increasing number of aging Baby Boomers – those individuals born between 1946 and 1964 – since age is the primary risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The population of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to more than double from 40.3 million to 88.5 million, according to the 2010 census.

Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating mental condition that “robs people of their memory, erases personality and makes even routine tasks like dressing and bathing impossible,” according to the USA Today article.

“We’re going to need coordinated efforts for this upcoming epidemic,” the study’s lead author Jennifer Weuve, assistant professor of medicine at Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, USA Today. “People have trouble getting their heads around these numbers, but imagine if everyone in the state of Illinois (population 12.8 million) had Alzheimer’s. I look around Chicago and can’t imagine it.”

The study analyzed information from 10,802 black and white Chicago residents, ages 65 and older, from 1993 to 2011, with participants interviewed and assessed for dementia every three years. The researchers took age, race, and level of education into account when evaluating the data.

This is not the first study to make such ominous predictions about the potential for an Alzheimer’s “epidemic.” A study done 10 years ago reached similar conclusions, and Alzheimer’s advocates have been warning about the dangers of the disease for years. A future study is expected to examine the effect of the Alzheimer’s epidemic on health care costs, which could exceed $2 trillion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Early onset Alzheimer’s disease was added to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance list, which means that those with the disease can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) via an expedited process.

The Chicago disability attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC are devoted to helping persons with disabling medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, to obtain the Social Security disability benefits to which they are entitled. To learn more, contact our office at (800) 442-6546 to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate Chicago disability lawyers.