Thousand Oaks Acorn, March 8, 2012

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, California leads the nation as the state most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The report, released March 8, states 5.4 million Americans and a half-million Californians are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2025, those numbers will increase to 16 million Americans and 660,000 Californians unless efforts are made to stop its trajectory.

More than 1.5 million unpaid caregivers, mostly family members, care for the 500,000 people in California with Alzheimer’s. The value of that care is pegged at $21 billion. Nationwide, unpaid caregivers provide $210 billion in care.

Studies indicate that people 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, yet some live as long as 20 years with Alzheimer’s. This indicates the slow nature of the progression of Alzheimer’s, which is always fatal.

Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death as the population ages. While deaths from other major causes experience declines, those from Alzheimer’s disease have risen. Between 2000 and 2008, deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease increased 66 percent, while those attributed to the No. 1 cause of death, heart disease, decreased 13 percent.

Nationwide, healthcare payments for an older person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are nearly three times higher, while Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) payments are 19 times higher than for seniors without these brain disorders.

Estimated costs for Alzheimer’s and other dementias will rise from $200 billion today—including

$140 billion paid by Medicare— to as high as $1.1 trillion in 2050. This rise includes a 500 percent increase in combined Medicare and Medicaid spending and 400 percent increase in outof pocket spending for families.

The full text of the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures can be viewed

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