The Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) released their annual report on World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21) and noted that the cost of dementia worldwide are estimated to be about $604 bil. in 2010, approximately 1% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). It represents an even higher proportion of GDP in high income countries such as the U.S. About 70% of these costs occur in North America and Western Europe.
The report defines costs as informal care (unpaid care provided by family and others), direct costs of social care (provided by community care professionals, and in residential home settings) and the direct costs of medical care (the costs of treating dementia and other conditions in primary and secondary care). The data showed that costs of informal care and the direct costs of social care generally contribute similar proportions of total costs (42% each), while the direct medical costs are much lower (16%).
The staggering number statistics were released by the ADI, a non-profit organization which is an international federation of 73 national Alzheimer’s organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association in the U.S., which my company, Family inHome Caregiving of Monterey, is a large supporter of. To date we have raised more than $21K to support their efforts, including finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.
The recent report highlights a fact that simply can’t be ignored. With health costs already crippling the U.S. economy, something must be done to find a treatment for the growing number of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
The report estimates that the annual cost per person with dementia is over $60K per year in the U.S. “The figures are cause for great concern and we hope that this Report will act as a call to action for governments and policy makers across the world. It is vital that they recognize that the cost of dementia will continue to increase at an alarming rate and we must work to improve care and support services, treatment and research into dementia in all regions of the world,” wrote Daisy Acosta, Chairman of ADI and Marc Wortmann Executive Director of ADI.
These words exemplify how critical it is that support for finding a cure for this terrible condition continues, and we hope you will support our local Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory Walk which starts at Custom House Plaza in Monterey October 16 at 10:00 a.m.
This disease, unfortunately, is underfunded compared to many other illnesses. Recently published research from the U.K. suggest that a 15-fold increase is required to reach parity with research into heart disease, and a 30-fold increase to achieve parity with cancer research.
The ADI report noted that people with dementia, their families and friends are affected on personal, emotional, financial and social levels. Lack of awareness, however, is a global problem and the economic impact on families is insufficiently appreciated. This is obvious for anyone caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it’s surprising how many people are unaware of the emotional and financial toll it takes.
In the U.S. and other developed countries there is a growing awareness of the problem, although the report noted that medical help-seeking is relatively unusual in low and middle income countries, where dementia is often viewed as a normal part of ageing. This is a double sided coin: Although the cost of care in these lower income countries is small, as awareness rises and more families seek medical treatment, costs will undoubtedly increasee in these countries.
The report projected that there will be an 85% increase in costs by 2030, based only on predicted increases in the number of people with dementia and said there is an urgent need to develop cost-effective packages of medical and social care that meet the needs of people with dementia and their caregivers across the course of the illness, and evidence-based prevention strategies. Please click here to read the full report from ADI.
It was front page news in the Monterey Herald today: senior citizens, many of which are on a fixed income, could see double digit hikes in their Medicare prescription premiums next year unless they shop around (and find) cheaper coverage. This is very disturbing to me as many of my Clients have failing memories and may simply allow electronic debits for insurance premiums to hit their account without shopping around.
Many of the rate increases are an unintended consequence of President Obama’s Health Care Reform which is restructuring the health plans of millions of Americans in an attempt to make buying Medicare supplemental drug insurance simpler and easier to understand.
However, in the process, a number of plans are being phased out. Some customers will be seamlessly switched to new plans (some of which will have a much higher cost), while still others will be left dangling as their plans are simply canceled.
My company, Family inHome Caregiving of Monterey which helps senior citizens remain in their own homes all over Monterey County, from Carmel to Salinas to King City, is an advocate for seniors and many of these changes don’t make sense. Some of my Clients are healthy and have all of their faculties, while others suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, which causes confusion, memory loss and other problems.
While some have set up living trusts and have someone looking out for their financial welfare, others are not as fortunate. Stranded and alone in the world, they become isolated and sometimes feel indignant when someone tries to step in to help. That’s why articles like the one today are so disturbing–many seniors are unknowingly victimized by price hikes like this.
The fact of the matter is that a new analysis by Avalere Health of government data found that premiums will go up an average of 10% among the top plans that have signed up 70% of the more than 17 mil. of seniors that have Medicare drug plans.
The study found that the second largest plan (the AARP MedicareRX Save plan with more than 1.5 mil. members) is being discontinued and its members are being switched to the AARP MedicareRX Preferred plan, which costs 15% more, on average. Seniors already in the latter plan will see premiums fall by 11%, which is very confusing. Avalere found that the biggest increase will be felt by those enrolled in the First Health Part D Premier Plus plan, offered by Coventry Health Care. They will see premiums rise 43% from less than $64/month now to almost $91 next year.
There are positives: benefits which start next year include a new 50% discount on brand name drugs (but only 7% on generics) when the elderly land in the “doughnut hole” which thankfully will be phased out by 2020.
My 97-year old grandmother who lives with me is currently in the doughnut hole, a place you don’t want to be as you grow older. The term refers to a gap in coverage when seniors must pay a whopping $6,440 out of their own pocket before the drug plan kicks back in.
Seniors pay a $310 deductable and then 25% of their costs until the total reaches $2,830 for the year. They then fall into this coverage gap where they must pay out of pocket until they hit $6,440 in personal expenses. After that, catastrophic coverage kicks in and seniors pay only 5% of drug costs for the remainder of the year.
Drugs for treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia are very expensive. My grandmother is on a number of them, which can cost nearly $1,000 each for a three month supply while she is in this so-called hole. This can be a shock to the pocketbook and I’m thankful it will be phased out as I am thankful for the $250 checks
the Department of Health and Human Services is sending out to the 4 mil. Americans which are falling into this hole this year. That payment is part of the government’s plan to try and help those in the doughnut hole. Although it’s welcomed, for many it is too little and too late.
A decline in memory is not always a function of serious disease, like Alzheimer’s. Sometimes memory loss is caused by factors that can be changed — such as diet, medication misuse, depression, etc… At the National Institute on Aging, research is showing that memory may be like other parts of the body. Research showed that the very gradual declines in memory take place until age 70 — when the pace increases, but not so much as to impair us. The conclusion?
The processes of normal aging do not rob you of your memory.
The greatest enemy to the healthy senior mind is depression. New activities, hobbies, and exercise are wonderful anti-depressants. If you truly are depressed, don’t bear it alone — SEEK HELP!
Stay active doing things that use your memory:
Take a class, play games, be with people
Pick up the phone now and call someone, just to "chat"
Volunteer your time. Get involved with a cause you believe in or in something that interests you
The Monterey Herald wrote a heart warming story today about a 96 year old woman who works three days a week at the Sally Griffin Center in Pacific Grove as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Loretta Collins’s 73 year old daughter Barbara Meazell also volunteers for meals on wheels. Collins said she first starting volunteering at the senior center and at the Discover Shop where she sold second-hand clothes to raise money for the American Cancer Society. “It was cathartic because it got me out of the house all day, and I’d meet so many different people,” she told the reporter. That’s why she likes working at Meals on Wheels. “Barbara and I don’t have a regular route, like most of the people at Meals on Wheels, so we end up going all over the place. That means we’re constantly meeting new and different people. A lot of people invite us in for a chat. Sometimes we’ll stay for a half hour or so.”
The human interaction is fulfilling for both, who take long walks together. Three to four times per week they walk from their home in Pacific Grove to the Monterey Municipal Wharf #2 (about 2.5 miles). This is a favorite haunt of mine as well, I can often be found with my 97-year old grandmother and the rest of my family at the Sand Bar and Grill enjoying some clam chowder.
It’s great to see Collins and Meazell getting out and helping others. It’s a wonderful cause. Volunteers bring meals to senior citizens and others who aren’t able to get out of the house and get a good meal (for more information on Meals on Wheels in Monterey County click here). My company, Family inHome Caregiving, has a similar but more comprehensive service where we pop in, give a Client a hot meal, make sure they take their medications and a bath, clean up as needed and let the family know how they are doing.
It’s a very fulfilling thing to do and I see people all over the Monterey Peninsula, from Carmel and Pebble Beach to Seaside, Marina and Salinas, and they are in all types of condition but always welcome you with a big smile. As Meazell said, “It used to be that people took care of their own family, but we’re now so fractured and mobile that a lot of seniors don’t have anybody close by to do that for them. Other cultures still take care of their elderly, but a lot of times that doesn’t happen here, which is sad. That’s why we’re involved with this program.
We are proud to be a sponsor of the upcoming Senior Symposium which will be held at the Sally Griffin Center on 700 Jewell Street this Saturday, Sept. 25., from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We hope to see you there! And if you have some free time on your hands, Meals on Wheels is in need of volunteers and would love to hear from you!
When It Comes to Longevity, Regular Exercise May Be the Most Potent Weapon Against Disease
By RON WINSLOW
The leading edge of the baby boom generation turns 65 next year, which means a new milestone looms on the horizon: age 85.
So what do boomers need to do not just to survive to 85, but to live healthy lives into old age and not break the bank at the federal Medicare program?
The most important strategy, according to the latest research to look at the question, is to be physically active in middle age. "If you are fit in mid-life, you double your chance of surviving to 85," says Jarett Berry, a cardiologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Put another way: If you’re not fit in your 50s, your projected life span "is eight years shorter than if you are fit," Dr. Berry says.
Dr. Berry’s findings, presented last week in San Francisco at the American Heart Association’s annual epidemiology and prevention conference, are based on an analysis of 1,765 men and women who had physical examinations performed during the 1970s and 1980s at the Cooper Institute, the Dallas-based birthplace of the aerobics movement. They are a reminder that despite an array of effective drugs and other medical advances, the front line for most of us in the battle to prevent heart disease and survive
The report also underscores the importance of physical activity in maintaining overall health: Fitness even trumped smoking cessation in the magnitude of benefit among participants in the study—though not by much. The combination of being physically fit, not smoking and having low blood pressure was a powerful predictor of longevity.