If you could spend a small amount now to save billions of dollars later, would you do it? That's what the Alzheimer's Foundation is proposing. Its focus is on five years. By delaying the onset of Alzheimer's by just five years, we'd save hundreds of billions in healthcare.
The foundation's recent report suggests that by investing two billion dollars a year starting in 2015, the savings of successfully delaying Alzheimer's would pay for the cost of research in just three years. How? Because treating Alzheimer's is expensive.
Today it costs Medicare $154 billion dollars - that's twenty percent of their entire budget. By 2050, the total cost will skyrocket past one trillion dollars. If, however, a new treatment by 2035 delayed the onset of Alzheimer's by five years, almost six million people would not develop Alzheimer's by 2050. That's a savings of nearly $90 billion for families and $370 billion for the federal government.
Here's another sobering fact. The proportion of those with early and moderate versus severe stages of the disease will shift to the right by 2050. What does that mean? Well, in the early stages people function well and the financial impact is low. In the moderate stage, memory lapses and confusion become apparent. Then in the final, severe stage, people need extensive daily care. This stage will hit half of all Alzheimer's cases in 2050.
The impact could be devastating unless an investment is made now. Several studies have the potential to make the five year delay a reality. Even though President Obama has pledged $100 million dollars a year, it's a mere start. We need much much more.
For more information…
Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer's Disease
The report from the Alzheimer's Association regarding the impact of funding a five-year delay in Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet
From the NIH National Institute for Aging