Alzheimer s taking huge toll, and no relief in sight

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There s depressing news about aging in America. As many as 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer s disease or other forms of dementia, according to a new report from the Alzheimer s Association.

There s an important distinction here dying with the disease isn t the same as dying from it. But dementia can speed someone s decline by interfering with their care for other conditions and illnesses, researchers note. Dementia can make it hard for people to swallow properly, move around or remember to take their medicine. It also makes both caregivers and family members less assiduous in diagnosing and treating conditions that would normally be standard in alert patients.

You should be getting a sense of the so-called blurred distinction between deaths among people with Alzheimer s and deaths caused by Alzheimer s. It s not so clear where to draw the line, says Jennifer Weuve of Chicago s Rush University.

The Alzheimer s Association s estimate is from an analysis of Medicare data.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross added, The predicted financial burden on our economy from caring for AD patients is in the staggering trillions of dollars by mid-century, according to reliable estimates. And that s just the monetary issue; the emotional toll is no less frightening. We must hope that some breakthrough in earlier diagnosis and treatment occurs in the not-too-distant future, and we know many research labs are devoted to making that happen.