This year, the total cost for healthcare for people age 65 and older living with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach $305 billion. Meanwhile, the number of Americans age 65 and older who develop Alzheimer’s is expected to double between now and 2050. Healthcare costs are clearly outpacing cases, however; in the same timeframe, estimates suggest the cost to care for this population will more than triple to surpass $1.1 trillion.
With the increasing number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s comes an increased need for care.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the U.S. has approximately half the number of certified geriatricians that it currently needs. The shortage of dementia care specialists increases pressure on primary care physicians (PCPs) to provide care for these patients. Surveys conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association show that many PCPs do not feel they are prepared or adequately trained to effectively handle dementia care – an element that may be exacerbated as medical practices prepare for an influx of patients post-COVID-19.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia – may be indicative of Alzheimer’s pathophysiology. Research shows that 40 to 60 percent of people age 58 and older with MCI have underlying pathology for Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, studies also show MCI is significantly misdiagnosed in the primary care setting due to barriers including lack of expertise, scheduling and availability of assessment tools.
One obstacle facing healthcare providers in the care of patients with cognitive decline is the pressing need for new therapies.
Currently, there are no pharmacologic treatments available that slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s. Although there are approved drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, they only temporarily improve cognitive symptoms. Developing treatments that slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and preserve brain function early in the disease continuum may be the most effective areas of research focus.
There is a clear need for healthcare organizations to explore ways to improve care for patients with MCI and dementia. The question is where to start.
To help healthcare providers increase the quality of care they can provide to patients and families dealing with dementia, Premier is hosting a webinar on June 29.
Understanding Trends in Dementia Care: A Review of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Conditions Burden of Illness 2016-2019 will review key findings from a Premier analysis of trends in dementia care derived from clinical and financial data. The webinar will explore demographic characteristics, diagnostic treatments and outcomes for patients with Alzheimer’s, MCI and other forms of dementia, as well as a detailed cost analysis designed to illuminate the total cost of caring for patients with dementia and cognitive impairment.