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High Costs for Alzheimer’s for Elderly Americans

Population Description

Aging in the United States is increasingly becoming a healthcare challenge, especially with the health needs and treatment costs rising. The Alzheimer’s Association (2021) produced a report in March, 2021, highlighting the incidence of Alzheimer’s dementia among American elderly. The population comprises people aged 65 years and older suffering from the said condition. Statistics indicate that the population is estimated at 6.2 million, where 72% are over 75 years and over two thirds are women (Alzheimer’s Association, 2021). Racial differences have also been highlighted to illustrate that African Americans and Hispanics are more vulnerable.

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Current Treatment Options

The available treatments for Alzheimer’s cannot be described as curative as most only address the symptoms. According to Cummings et al. (2019), three types of drugs: rivastigmine, donepezil, and galantamine are classified as cholinesterase inhibitors. They are used for mild to moderate symptoms and are intended to control behavioral and cognitive symptoms. Disease-modifying drugs include the aducanumab, which is an antibody that helps reduce the amyloid plagues. Aduhelm is one of the emerging drugs under this category whose approval has raised controversies across the country (Bagley and Sachs, 2021). The key point to emphasize is that these alternatives are hardly effective in completely treating the condition because they mostly target the various symptoms. Some, especially aducanumab, may require some accompanying treatments, including PET scans.

Costs of Treatment

The American healthcare system incurs heavy costs of treating Alzheimer’s among the elderly. Estimates in 2018 indicated that $277 billion was the annual cost where $186 was footed by the taxpayers. The remainder, approximately $60 billion was out-of-pocket (Preidt, 2018). Even though the targeted population is the aged, 65 years and above, the fact that a significant portion of the total cost is incurred by individuals presents a huge burden. People at this age are hardly employable or have a dependable source of income, which means the burden is borne by family members. Medicare may have helped significantly but the cover remains inadequate in easing the burden.

Medicare Cover

Medicare coverage depends on the stage of the Alzheimer’s from early diagnosis to late stages. During the early phases, the processes involve the diagnosis of the disease and subsequent treatment or therapies. In this case, both the diagnoses and physical and occupational therapies are covered up to 80% by Medicate Plan B (Guerrero, 2021). However, a comprehensive cover is offered to patients in the later stages where all-inclusive hospice is provided. The problem lies with the fact that Medicare does not offer 100% coverage to all patients. Those without Medicare are faced with extreme difficulties affording care.

Current Policies

The current policies for Alzheimer’s for America’s elderly revolve around the National Alzheimer’s project Act that sets out a course of action updated on an annual basis. The national project has described its main goals and strategies for pursuing them, one of which entails expanding support for the patients. Quality of care is also emphasized but there is little on the affordability or the costs of Alzheimer’s. A key point to note is the current policy is inadequate in addressing the rising costs. Therefore, it can be assumed that the patients and their families will continue to feel the costs despite the efforts of Medicare.

Impacts of High Costs/Impact Assessment

The hist cost of treating Alzheimer’s can critical implications for patients, their families, and the overall society. first, the mortality rate has risen by an estimated 123% between 200 and 2015 as explained by Preidt (2018). The costs to society are also increasing considering that financial burden keeps rising. The families cam also feel the financial, emotional and physical strain watching their relatives suffer. The support from the government’s national project remains inadequate to address the rising impacts of Alzheimer’s.

Potential Solutions

Many potential solutions to the rising costs of Alzheimer’s patients aged 65 years and above. However, it is important to express that the essence of the recommendations is to reduce the burden on the families and relatives caring their elderly. All-inclusive cover al all stages would imply that patients do not have to pay out of their pockets at any stage. Additionally, specialized facilities and financing research and development can accelerate care delivery and production of more effective drugs. Lastly, controlling prices would help patients pay lower prescription costs.

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Alzheimer’s Association. (2021). New Alzheimer’s Association report examines racial and ethnic attitudes on Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Alzheimer’s Association. Web.

Bagley, N., & Sachs, R. (2021). The drug that could break American health care. The Atlantic. Web.

Cummings, J., Tong, G., & Ballard, C. (2019). Treatment combinations for Alzheimer’s disease: Current and future pharmacotherapy options. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 67, 779-794. Web.

Guerrero, A. (2021). What benefits does Medicare provide for Alzheimer’s patients? Medicare Resources. Web.

Preidt, R. (2018). The high costs of Alzheimer’s. WebMD. Web.

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