TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Alzheimer’s Association‘s 2020 facts and figures report shows a grim future for the disease, not just medically but also financially.
“There’s 55,000 individuals in the state of Kansas that have Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Juliette Bradley, with the Alzheimer’s Association Heart of America Chapter. “For each of those individuals, we estimate there’s (up to) 3 caregivers. So we’re talking more than 150,000 caregivers. The unpaid value of that care is over $2 billion. That number is outstanding.”
The Alzheimer’s Association is talking with lawmakers nationwide, about ways to give caregivers breakthrough tax breaks and/or training benefits.
The report goes on to say, 90% of primary care physicians in the United States expect to see an increase in people living with dementia during the next five years. Half say the medical profession is not prepared to meet this demand.
Kansas is also lacking in geriatricians, doctors who specialize in helping the elderly population. The report says Kansas is one of 14 states showing a major shortage of geriatricians by 2050.
“We only have 23 geriatricians in the state of Kansas currently. By 2050, that number needs to grow by 476 percent for us to be able to meet the needs of that population,” said Joan Hudson, a Board Certified R.N. in Gerontology.
One problem is, many doctors have said they aren’t comfortable giving a Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis, which then delays the patient’s care and treatment.
“The reason why physicians voice they aren’t comfortable with that, is their residencies and fellowships didn’t prepare them for it,” Hudson said. “It’s not something that is commonly drilled down as a specialty. I do think it’s something the medical schools are looking at. Nursing schools are also looking at it in the past few years because of course, we’re all seeing the baby boom that is coming.”
So as the baby boomer generation gets older, health experts expect a major increase in people who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Thankfully, there’s an abundance of clinical trials available and research happening to improve treatment options and hopefully find a cure someday.
To see more on the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2020 Facts and Figures Report visit: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures