Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States

This study intends to investigate the impact of Alzheimer’s disease in various sectors such as economy where the cost of care giving and cost of treatment are costly causing the economy’s resources to be diverted there. The cost of care giving continues to rise with time and by 2050, it is estimated that the cost will rise to about 1.1 trillion U.S. Dollars.

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The study illustrates that Alzheimer’s disease is among the most expensive diseases to diagnose and treat in America compared to others such as cancer and coronary heart diseases. Annual costs for treatment and caregiving ranges to 100 billion U.S. Dollars. Alzheimer’s disease also leads to serious human suffering, hence people quitting from their jobs and their special activities since it interferes with someone’s livelihood. According to this study, Alzheimer’s disease is speculated to lead America to bankruptcy within the next few decades. However, the situation can be remedied by various steps such as establishing Federal Programs for health systems to improve on prevention and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and supporting the work organizations such as a Alzheimer’s Association in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. This will go a long way to save the nation.

Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease in United States Introduction Alzheimer’s disease is a prevalent dementia type associated with memory challenges, reasoning, and deficiency in cognitive abilities. The main risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include a rise in the number of aging people, since the majority of the population with Alzheimer’s disease age about 65. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease worsens as time goes by since it continually progresses once a patient develops the symptoms (Alzheimer’s 2015). The early symptoms include mild loss of memory, but later stages also show the reduced ability for patients to respond appropriately to their current environment, the inability to maintain relationships with other people, and the inability to hold a proper conversation. Various medical reports show that Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure, although there is an available treatment for symptoms. Furthermore, there is extensive research being done to come up with the full cure. Although the current treatment is not in a position to prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, it plays a significant role in enhancing lifespan and slows down the rate of increased symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease has been the main cause of worry in many nations over the decades due to the number of deaths it causes. The lifespan for those who develop the disease is about eight years once the symptoms can become evident, while survival rates range from four to five years in individuals, although this is dependent on health, condition, and age. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there has been an enormous burden caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to many countries, especially the American state. This burden mainly goes to the American government, individuals, caregivers, and health organizations’ systems. According to the annual report made by the Alzheimer’s Association, there is a huge population living with the disease; it is estimated to be at about 5.7 million. The report estimates that this number is likely to project to about 14 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is among the six leading causes of death in the U.S. and a health care organization reports that Alzheimer’s disease has been causing more deaths in the past and current decades than those produced by both prostate cancer and breast cancers. It is a worrying situation as the disease develops in a U.S. individual every 60 seconds, this rate is likely to rise to 33 seconds by the year 2050. Americans family preoccupied with the needs and fear of relatives with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias due to the cost in providing care.

The report estimates that 16.1 million citizens cannot meet the cost of delivering care, hence causing massive debts and putting a heavy burden on the caregivers. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease require 18.4 hours of caregiving according to the 2017 report; this caregiving is estimated to cost about 232 billion U.S. dollars. The total cost of caregiving and treatment, according to this report, is likely to increase to 277 billion U.S. dollars, causing the nation to direct a lot of resources to the health sector. Worse is, the costs will continue to rise over the decades despite the various campaigns being held all over America. The report estimates that by 2050, the price will increase to about 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars. Therefore, medical practitioners and health care in general have a role to play in carrying out early, precise, and accurate diagnoses, further research on the etiology and risk factors for the disease, and proper treatment with a mission to save masses of people ( Heneka et al. 2015). Also, there is a high possibility of salvaging 7.9 trillion U.S. dollars from the medical and caregiving costs. There have been significant efforts and fights against Alzheimer’s disease.

The leading organization in America in fighting to end Alzheimer’s disease is the Alzheimer’s Association. This organization’s sole mission and objective is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementias by taking up advanced research, providing enhanced care for patients, and reducing the risk factors for all dementias by ensuring proper brain health and creating adequate awareness to the citizens through their various campaigns. Other organizations include the BrightFocus Organization, Alzheimer’s Research Organization, and the Auguste Deter Foundation. These organizations have dire need to control the development of Alzheimer’s disease due to its many impacts, especially on the economy of America. This article elaborates further on the general the impact of mortality, caregiving, and the costs of treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. Alzheimer’s disease leads to severe human suffering. The patient undergoes a period of a lack of awareness, reduction in cognitive behavior, loss of memory, impaired eyesight, impaired speaking and writing. Sudden change of personality especially in mood to mood changes and inability to carry out daily activities, hence withdrawing from working environments and consequently, there is an increased dependency on their relatives (Norton et al.2014). They often require close attention through caregiving; it forces them to cut on food budgets to meet the cost of caregiving which is very costly. This is primarily in the elderly who require hospice services and long-term care since they cannot do anything for themselves. Alzheimer’s comes along with various syndromes such as difficulty in sleeping, cases of prolonged depression, apathy, and hyperactivity (Rosenberg et al. 2015). These syndromes require non-stop care and medical attention that have proved to be very costly.

Alzheimer’s disease is associated with the inability to exercise clear judgment, hence, patients are not in a position to make decisions by themselves. They are unable to communicate appropriately with those they have direct relationships with using both verbal and non-verbal cues. Alzheimer’s disease has a tremendous economic impact on the United States. It is among the most expensive conditions to diagnose and treat in the U.S., and it is the third most costly disease in the U.S. following cancer and coronary heart disease. The annual cost of treatments and caregiving for Alzheimer’s disease account to 100 billion U.S. dollars. These costs include direct costs like medical care costs, intangible costs which involve the pain and endurance which those related directly to patients undergo and indirect costs. The latter involves the costs endured of the resources lost during illness. These may include reduced productivity to excessive caregiving by nurses, unpaid caregiving services, and the premature deaths of patients. Alzheimer’s disease has been speculated to cause Americans a lot of money within the next few decades as cases of Alzheimer’s disease continue to increase every year. Caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to costs Medicare, other private insurance in the U.S., Medicaid, and even other individuals over 20 trillion U.S. dollars in the next few decades. Factors that increase the cost of Alzheimer’s disease include the severity of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias which increases over time, comorbidities. Reports show that a single patient may experience more than one comorbid condition.

The cost of treatment for each comorbidity is about 10,400 U.S. dollars. For instance, the settings of giving care during the early stages of the disease are presented as the indirect costs and are usually higher than direct costs because patients are taken care of by informal caregivers. Putting the patients in institutions when the symptoms begin to become severe usually reverses the indirect costs and reduces them, causing a rise in direct expenses to therefore an increase in the total cost up to 3 times. Research proves that a reduced delay in diagnosis and accurate testing is believed to reduce the total cost of the disease. Prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease increases with a growth in age groups, which in turn increase the total cost of caring. In analyzing the economic impact and the effects of treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, various facts have to be laid down. For instance, if a treatment delays, it does not necessarily influence the survival rate of the patient but the overall cost of treatment. If there is the desire to reduce the cost of medications to a certain range, one of the areas to look at is the sector of informal caregiving. If, however, the treatment process is prolonged with the purpose to enhance survival, there is a possibility that there will be a rise in the overall cost of treatment. Some economic analysis which has the potential to influence the cost of treatment may be used, such as RCT and pre-post designs. However, these analyses are expensive to carry out and not of significant impact since they are too short term.

Pharmacological treatments have great potential to increase the total cost of Alzheimer’s disease despite the roles they play in reducing the symptoms of the progressing disease. These treatments are very costly, causing an enormous strain on those who relate directly to the patients. Another significant impact is on the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal disease, and this is because there has not been a real cure despite the outstanding efforts made by health care systems and advanced research. Alzheimer’s disease is also a disease that progresses with time, and the only available treatment is meant to slow the symptoms. Hence, once the disease develops in an individual, the final result will be eventual death. This has caused a prolonged strain for the relatives of the patients and the nurses taking care of them. Various reports show that caregivers suffer from psychiatric symptoms such as depression. The knowledge that the patient will eventually die and offering too many hours of care brings stress and depression. Relatives use a lot of resources, cutting off budgets and all of a sudden shifting attention to the expensive treatment associated with Alzheimer’s disease that is incapable of curing the patient. This fatal aspect of Alzheimer’s disease has caused a significant deprivation of the economic state of the United States. This mainly occurs because once the disease develops in a patient, the patient is incapable of taking up responsibilities and activities which revolve around cognitive behavior, memory, and interacting with other members of the society (Ch?©telat 2018). They are forced to quit working since they become helpless. This does more harm than good to the economy.

Instead of the patients generating revenue, they spend most of the country’s resources on treatment and caregiving. This treatment is very costly. This, in turn, leads to the state shifting its resources on the health sector, ignoring other areas that generate more funds. Despite all those financial strains, the patient eventually dies. Worse is, there are high numbers of those who die annually, decade after decade. This reduces the number of citizens by an exceptional range, thus reducing income and revenue by a triple range. If steps in fighting Alzheimer’s disease are not laid down by mid-century, the U.S. and other nations will receive a blow due to the loss they will have faced. A notorious challenge in the U.S. is the issue of unpaid caregiving, 83% of care provided to Alzheimer’s disease patients in the U.S. comes from friends, relatives, and other caregivers who are not paid for care given. This unpaid caregiving has played a significant role in reducing economic growth as it accounts up to about 232 billion U.S. dollars, and this is more than double the revenue that other sources of income provide. Caregiving is a significant process that is integral during treatment. The role of caregivers is to ensure that patients maintain their hygiene to prevent further infections that may be risk factors to a progression of the disease.

Most of the nurses are often unable to provide the total care required for patients and have to work over time to meet the amount of attention needed, therefore, they have to work many hours, thus assistance has been reducing over the years (Montanini et al. 2016). Major approaches that may be expensive are being taken to aid the nurses in providing proper care without necessarily straining them and with the sole purpose to enhance the independence of the patients with the Alzheimer’s disease. “Ambient Assisted Living technologies may offer the kind of assistance required. The least amount of informal care provided on a weekly basis for Alzheimer’s disease patients is 490 hours of work. The bulk of the cost of caregiving mainly goes to the unpaid caregivers. The majority of the caregiving is not only facing financial issues but also their health risks associated with caring for Alzheimer’s disease patients. These involve developing depression and advances psychological disorders these caregivers face. These psychiatric disorders result from too many hours of caregiving and prolonged lifetime caregiving. The caregiving burden rises as the disease’s symptoms become severe, as the patient’s health deteriorates, and the caregiver is also at high risk of being fatally ill. In the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, the U.S. should focus mainly on the risk factors that may interfere with the lifespan of an individual with dementia. One major step is in preventing other chronic diseases that may advance symptoms such as diabetes and preventing obesity which is a significant risk factor as it leads to adipokine dysregulation.

Research done by The Journals of Gerontology shows that by reducing the risk and impact of diabetes, the lifespan of a 52- year old dementia patient may be advanced. Also, elimination of high blood pressure for the middle-aged and the elderly increases the expected lifespan of patients living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by a period of two to three years (Zissimopoulos at al. 2018). In conclusion, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent and devastating diseases in the U.S. that has drained the resources and the econnomy by continually increasing the cost of careviging and general treatment, especially among the aging groups. There must be an outlined plan that must be set to reduce the widespread impact of Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. The problems concerning the patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease should be more open in their healthcare department and reasearch minds, so they can work together by making enough efforts in coming with a cure for the Alzheimer’s disease. The main focus during pharmacological treatment has been on prolonging the lifespan of the patient. To achieve better results, the focus should shift with immediate effect on solely determining etiological risk factors and doing away with them, and in turn, ultimately controling the development of the fatal disease.

Focusing on prolonging the life of the patient does not give the long-term solution because, at the end of the day, there is the loss of life due to Alzheimer’s disease. There should be disease-prevention therapy. This kind of treatment is not only estimated to salvage millions of people’s lives but would also save billions of U.S. dollars in treatment and care provided. One of the other steps is to establish federal programs for families and health systems to improve the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, diagnosis, caregiving, pharmacological treatment, and institutional and informal care. This will enable the nation to determine whether it is meeting the direct challenges caused by the disease for families affected, the caregivers, and the economy in general. This process, however, requires various resources to be channeled to the health sector for the plan to be fully implemented. Such resources include advanced research by scientists, funds for research, and the general participation by the government in coming up with a permanent solution for the county’s primary challenge. Another important step that the nation can undertake is to promote the work done by organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, whose major role is to fight the disease. Promoting this organization may involve funding by the government since it is a non-profit organization. This will enable the citizens to generally appreciate the work done and to promote awareness through sharing information, supporting the organization during campaigns, and participating in setting aside some amount to donate them. The medical experts also have a great role to play in the early and accurate diagnosis of the disease to understand the real cause and establish the required treatment in time. This will go a long way to prevent mortality up to a very high percentage.

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