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Published on: April 3, 2013
by Ashley Zilka for Rochester Homepage:
Having a loved one with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia is very difficult. It can take a toll on your family, but it can also take a toll on your wallet.
We are talking big numbers. A study found it costs society about $50,000 for every person who has dementia. As baby boomers age, spending for their care will increase dramatically. Frederick and Mildred Halik have been married for 66 years. Several years ago Mildred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both of their lives forever changed.
“How to carry through normal everyday things that everybody can do automatically. In her case, it’s just slowly disappearing,” Frederick said.
The Haliks are not alone. About 5.2 million Americans have the disease, the most common form of dementia. Locally, that number is in the tens of thousands. Even more shocking is that a new study released Wednesday found it can cost up to $56,000 each year for every person who has dementia. That is higher than the cost of cancer care.
“This is really startling because everyday now we have 10,000 people turning 65 yearsold and the fastest part of our growing population right now are people older than 85-years-old,” Highland Hospital medicine chief Robert McCann said. “We think that between now and 2040 that the population with people with dementia is going to double. When you look at the costs to society, it’s about 200 billion dollars now a year, that can potentially double.”
The impact of dementia on families goes beyond the wallet. Frederick says giving his wife medication is a challenge.
“It gets to be a real stressful activity to keep up with her like that. She doesn’t want to take things like that. You have to coax her into doing that. Matter of fact, you have to coax her into doing everything including eating and all the other things,” he said.
Although Mildred lives at home, the Haliks are starting to look at nursing homes, which is another costly burden.
“Somebody you lived with all your life like that and now she is going to live somewhere else. So we investigated that and that’s a very expensive thing. you can spend up to $5/6,000 dollars a month to keep that ball rolling,” he said.
Doctors say there is a ray of hope. President Obama has announced a $100 million plan to research the human brain. The hope is to better understand brain disorders, one of those being Alzheimer’s disease.
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