The Alzheimer's Association estimates that the cost of caring for people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia will be $200 billion in 2012 alone.
About $140 billion of it will be paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. The rest of the costs will fall directly on victims of these diseases and their families. For many, it will dominate their retirement planning and still ruin their retirement.
Harry Johns, CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, says spending money to find ways to prevent and treat this disease is critical. "By committing (to spending) just 1 percent of that cost -- $2 billion -- to research the disease, (we) could put the nation on a path to effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure."
More than 5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer's. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed, the association points out.
The disease affects more than 5 million people in the U.S. -- about half the people 85 and older have it.I doubt that any of us with older friends and family members have escaped having a close-up experience with the heartbreak of Alzheimer's. Last week, the U.S. government launched a "war on Alzheimer's." A committee sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services is drafting the National Alzheimer's Project Act. A final plan is expected to be approved in April. Its primary goal is to develop a plan for research.
This is money worth spending and a goal worth meeting.