While more than 35 million people worldwide are living with dementia, that number is expected to reach more that 115 million by 2050. Most of those dementia patients who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are dependent on consistent care from professionals. The Alzheimer's Association predicts
that within the next 40 years, the costs of caring for the US dementia population will total $1.2 trillion. This is drastically higher than the $640 billion the disease cost worldwide in 2010.
"People with dementia have special needs for care," the Alzheimer's disease International report says. "They need more personal care, more hours of care, and more supervision, all of which is associated with greater caregiver strain, and higher costs."
Those caregivers who treat Alzheimer’s patients are often faced with demanding work schedules, and sometimes may lack adequate training or preparation. Professional caregivers frequently earn minimum wage, or complain about low job satisfaction. Family member caregivers are even less skilled and valued in providing patient support.
"Because of the progressive nature of the disease and the length of its duration, Alzheimer's care needs only escalate, often to the point of impacting the caregiver's own health," Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer of the Alzheimer's Association, said in a statement.
With an increasingly aging population and longer life expectancies, dementia cases are expected to increase. According to the report, 10% of the population is expected to live over the age of 80 by 2050—almost 6% more than the current population.
The World Alzheimer's Report says there are several actions that would lead to improvements in the quality of care, as well as making it more affordable. Essentiallly, the group finds that dementia needs to become a larger focus of policy reform and initiatives if it’s to see changes.
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Overwhelming Burden, Cost of Alzheimer's to Triple, Report Says [CNN]