Alzheimer's takes increasing toll on healthcare system

Alzheimer's disease will take an increasing toll on the healthcare industry and entitlement programs, report USA Today and Reuters. Altogether, $183 billion is expected to be spent on professional caregivers in 2011, up from $172 billion a year ago, according to a new report by the Alzheimer's Foundation.

Those ever-increasing expenditures will take a huge toll on Medicare and Medicaid. By 2050 it is expected that Alzheimer's and dementia-related costs for Medicare will increase six-fold and for Medicaid, four-fold. Elderly individuals with Alzheimer's are about three times more costly to care for than other patients because they often require long and repeated hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, nearly 15 million Americans are caring for someone with Alzheimer's or age-related dementia--up more than 37 percent from a year ago. Those family caregivers provide 17 billion hours of uncompensated care, for a total of $202.6 billion.

"Stress is extremely high, and one-third (of caregivers) are experiencing depression," said Beth Kallmyer, the Alzheimer's Foundation's senior director of constituent services.

For more:
- read the Reuters article
- read the USA Today article