Metro-East News

More than $277 billion spent annually on caring for patients with Alzheimer's, study finds

A study released Tuesday reported that the cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease continues to rise by $20 billion a year and Alzheimer's-related deaths are also increasing.

The Alzheimer's Association has released its 2018 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, which reported hat more than $277 billion is spent annually to care for those with Alzheimer's and dementia. The report also says that the number of deaths is increasing, by more than 120 percent, while deaths from other major causes decrease.

“This year’s report illuminates the growing cost and impact of Alzheimer’s on the nation’s health care system, and also points to the growing financial, physical and emotional toll on families facing this disease,” Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a news release. “Soaring prevalence, rising mortality rates and lack of an effective treatment all lead to enormous costs to society, Alzheimer’s is a burden that’s only going to get worse."

While the number of deaths from heart disease decreased by 11 percent from 2000 to 2015, the association says the number of Alzheimer's-related deaths increased by 123 percent in the same time period.

“Discoveries in science mean fewer people are dying at an early age from heart disease, cancer and other diseases,” said Fargo. “Similar scientific breakthroughs are needed for Alzheimer’s disease."

An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's dementia in 2018, according to the Alzheimer's Association. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country.

Patients with Alzheimer's may die of pneumonia or blood clots, but the underlying cause is the disease itself, doctors said in Live Science.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535, @MaryCooleyBND