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  1. #1
    Martha! Number 47's Avatar
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    10.25.16 @ 01:04 AM
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    Default Study: Dementia tops cancer, heart disease in cost

    The biggest cost of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia isn't drugs or other medical treatments, but the care that's needed just to get mentally impaired people through daily life, the nonprofit RAND Corp.'s study found.

    It also gives what experts say is the most reliable estimate for how many Americans have dementia - around 4.1 million. That's less than the widely cited 5.2 million estimate from the Alzheimer's Association, which comes from a study that included people with less severe impairment.

    "The bottom line here is the same: Dementia is among the most costly diseases to society, and we need to address this if we're going to come to terms with the cost to the Medicare and Medicaid system," said Matthew Baumgart, senior director of public policy at the Alzheimer's Association.

    Dementia's direct costs, from medicines to nursing homes, are $109 billion a year in 2010 dollars, the new RAND report found. That compares to $102 billion for heart disease and $77 billion for cancer. Informal care by family members and others pushes dementia's total even higher, depending on how that care and lost wages are valued.

    "The informal care costs are substantially higher for dementia than for cancer or heart conditions," said Michael Hurd, a RAND economist who led the study. It was sponsored by the government's National Institute on Aging and will be published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

    Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Dementia also can result from a stroke or other diseases. It is rapidly growing in prevalence as the population ages. Current treatments only temporarily ease symptoms and don't slow the disease. Patients live four to eight years on average after an Alzheimer's diagnosis, but some live 20 years. By age 80, about 75 percent of people with Alzheimer's will be in a nursing home compared with only 4 percent of the general population, the Alzheimer's group says.

    "Most people have understood the enormous toll in terms of human suffering and cost," but the new comparisons to heart disease and cancer may surprise some, said Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the Institute on Aging.

    "Alzheimer's disease has a burden that exceeds many of these other illnesses," especially because of how long people live with it and need care, he said.

    For the new study, researchers started with about 11,000 people in a long-running government health survey of a nationally representative sample of the population. They gave 856 of these people extensive tests to determine how many had dementia, and projected that to the larger group to determine a prevalence rate - nearly 15 percent of people over age 70.

    Using Medicare and other records, they tallied the cost of purchased care - nursing homes, medicines, other treatments - including out-of-pocket expenses for dementia in 2010. Next, they subtracted spending for other health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or depression so they could isolate the true cost of dementia alone.

    "This is an important difference" from other studies that could not determine how much health care cost was attributable just to dementia, said Dr. Kenneth Langa, a University of Michigan researcher who helped lead the work.

    Even with that adjustment, dementia topped heart disease and cancer in cost, according to data on spending for those conditions from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

    Finally, researchers factored in unpaid care using two different ways to estimate its value - foregone wages for caregivers and what the care would have cost if bought from a provider such as a home health aide. That gave a total annual cost of $41,000 to $56,000 per year for each dementia case, depending on which valuation method was used.

    "They did a very careful job," and the new estimate that dementia affects about 4.1 million Americans seems the most solidly based than any before, Hodes said. The government doesn't have an official estimate but more recently has been saying "up to 5 million" cases, he said.

    The most worrisome part of the report is the trend it portends, with an aging population and fewer younger people "able to take on the informal caregiving role," Hodes said. "The best hope to change this apparent future is to find a way to intervene" and prevent Alzheimer's or change its course once it develops, he said.

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk dibblekins's Avatar
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    10.22.16 @ 02:27 PM
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    And you know the really sad thing about all of this? The vast, vast majority of people with dementia don't even WANT to be kept alive in the way that they are, suffering from the effects of a horrible, horrible disease that robs a person of their personality, their memories, their identity, their self-respect...Ask a person in the early stages of dementia, before it really decimates them and they'll tell you how they dread being kept alive in that condition.

    The trouble with our society nowadays is that we see death as 'un-natural', something to be feared and avoided, AT ALL COSTS. Doctors play God every day in their quest to keep these people alive - often against their will. Having worked in nursing homes myself - and with a sister who still does - I can tell you from personal experience that the victims of diseases like this are pumped full of antibiotics when they contract a chest infection, for example - something that would, if left alone, give them a merciful release! And it isn't just the victim who suffers - the relatives do too - and, as we've seen from 47's article above, the whole of society is struggling with the financial repercussions of the way we deal with this condition.

    Something needs to be done, it really does...Maybe living wills are the way to go, I don't know...What I DO know, however, is that if I am unfortunate enough to develop the condition myself, I really do NOT want to kept alive, in some sort of horrible vegetative state. It's a form of existence, yes - but it's not 'living'. And I don't want my son to have to see me like that.
    I'm FEMALE...Deal with it!

    "Whatever you do, wherever you go, there you are..." Edward Van Halen 1986

    "You spend the first part of your life trying to make your mark, and the second part just trying to cover up your tracks"... Weesfreewheelin, 2012

    "Life's too short to stuff a mushroom"... Shirley Conran, 1975

    "You turn if you want to...The LADY is NOT for turning!"...Margaret
    Thatcher, 1980

  3. #3
    Good Enough
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    10.24.16 @ 06:44 PM
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    My grandmother died at 99. She was "gone"at least 7 years before she finally died. She would have been mortified to know the state she was in. Befire she got really bad, she would tell my mom that she was tired, she just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up....she knew what was coming.

  4. #4
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    10.23.16 @ 01:32 PM
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    Alzheimers is a terrible disease. It puts those in charge of your care into a terrible spot as well. My wife's grandfather just recently passed away and he had horrible Alzheimers. He didn't recognize his own daughter, couldn't feed himself, and didn't remember anything about his past. He was a shell of his former self, practically a sack of organs just plugging away on instinct. Finally, my mother-in-law ignored her guilt and told the doctors to stop caring for his medical problems.

    It's a tough thing to decide for someone else that they should die--especially when it's your parent. Thankfully, he had done well financially and his estate had the means to pay for his care, but it was outrageously expensive. When you see how he was living you wonder what the hell the point was to keeping him going. Of course, it's easier for me to see--it's not my flesh and blood withering away in front of me.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.



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