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New Report Says Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Triple Healthcare Costs
for Americans Over Age 65

March 24, 2009, Alzheimer’s Association

Total healthcare costs are more than three times higher for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias than for other people age 65 and over, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.

In the new report, total healthcare costs are calculated as per person payments from all sources. Medicare payments alone are almost three times higher for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia than for others over age 65; Medicaid payments alone are more than nine times higher.

With an aging Baby Boomer population and the country facing unprecedented economic challenges, it is more important than ever the Alzheimer crisis be dealt with. Alzheimer’s impact is not to be underestimated.

According to the report, there are 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. Every 70 seconds someone in America develops the disease and by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

People with Alzheimer’s are high consumers of hospital, nursing home and other health and long-term care services, which translates into high costs for Medicare, Medicaid and millions of families. As families struggle to survive in a deepening recession and states grapple with budget shortfalls, Alzheimer’s disease threatens to overwhelm them both.

With family members providing care at home for about 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the ripple effects of Alzheimer’s disease can be felt throughout the entire family unit. According to Facts and Figures, in 2008, nearly 10 million Alzheimer caregivers in the U.S. provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $94 billion.

The full text of the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures can be viewed here.


The Alzheimer’s Project, a pioneering multi-part, multi-platform series bringing
new understanding and hope for millions and revealing human faces behind
the disease, debuts in May on HBO

January 9, 2009, Los Angeles

One of the most devastating forms of memory loss is Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible and progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Today, Alzheimer’s is the second most-feared illness in America, following cancer, and may affect as many as five million Americans. As the baby-boom generation reaches retirement, that number could soar to more than 11 million by 2040 and have a huge economic impact on America’s already fragile healthcare system.

While there is no cure for the disease, THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT shows there is now genuine reason to be optimistic about the future. Debuting on HBO in May and created by the award-winning team behind HBO’s acclaimed “Addiction” project, this multiplatform series takes a close look at groundbreaking discoveries made by the country’s leading scientists, as well as the effects of this debilitating and fatal disease both on those with Alzheimer’s and on their families.

Scientific research is gaining momentum in discovering ways to treat and possibly prevent this devastating brain disease. Bringing a new understanding, THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT features a four-part documentary series, 17 short supplemental films, a companion book published by Public Affairs Books, a robust Web site and a nationwide community-based outreach campaign. HBO will use all of its platforms, including the HBO main service, multiplex channels, HBO On Demand, HBO Podcasts,, HBO Channel on YouTube and DVD sales, to support the project.

The first of the four documentaries in THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT is “The Memory Loss Tapes,” which provides an up-close and personal look at seven individuals living with Alzheimer’s, each in an advancing state of dementia across the full spectrum of the progression of the disease. “Momentum In Science, Part 1” and “Momentum In Science, Part 2” is a state-of-the-science report that takes viewers inside the laboratories and clinics of 24 leading scientists and physicians, revealing some of the most cuttingedge research advances. “‘Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?’ With Maria Shriver” captures what it means to be a child or grandchild of one who suffers, while “Caregivers” highlights the sacrifices and successes of people who experience their loved ones’ gradual descent into dementia.

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Obesity, Diabetes and Heart Disease May Speed Dementia — Expert urges people to
modify lifestyle after reports find a connection

by Steven Reinberg
March 10, 2009, HealthDay News

Obesity and its common companions — diabetes and heart disease — can work together to speed dementia and other brain ills, a series of new studies shows.

One expert thinks these papers, published in the March issue of Neurology, deliver a key message, namely that people can take steps to reduce their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People think about lifestyle factors in preventing heart disease, he says, but not always when it comes to losing mental abilities.

“This is an important message,” said Dr. Ronald C. Petersen, chairman of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council of the Alzheimer’s Association and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Mayo Clinic. “Development of cognitive decline need not be a passive process.”

“We are not all just sitting here and aging, and sooner or later it’s going to hit us,” said Petersen, who was not involved in the studies. “In fact, there may be some modifiable lifestyle factors that may influence our risk of developing cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease down the road.”

In one report, Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, found that among older women, obesity, high blood pressure and a low level of HDL, the “good” cholesterol — collectively labeled metabolic syndrome — were each associated with a 23 percent increase in risk for cognitive impairment.

Yaffe’s research team collected data on 4,895 women who averaged 66 years old and who had no cognitive impairment at the start of the study. Among the 497 women with metabolic syndrome, about 7 percent developed cognitive impairment, compared with 4 percent of the women without the condition.

“As the obesity and sedentary lifestyle epidemic escalates throughout the world, identification of the role of these modifiable behaviors in increasing risk for development of deleterious outcomes, such as cognitive impairment, is critical,” the authors concluded.

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Early Alzheimer’s Can Erode Driving Skills

by Mary Brophy Marcus
February 9, 2009, USA Today

People with early Alzheimer’s disease, though often very functional in many areas of life, may not be as competent behind the wheel of a car as those without the memory-damaging disease.

“Our research indicates that even among people who have early, mild cases of cognitive decline, there is an immediate drop-off in driving skills,” says study author Jeffrey Dawson, an associate professor of biostatistics at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City.

Dawson and other researchers from the University of Iowa evaluated the driving abilities of 40 older people diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease and 115 elderly drivers without the condition. Study participants first had a series of off-road tests that measured thinking, movement and visual skills.

They then moved to a road test in which everyone drove the same Ford Taurus station wagon. The scientists hooked up four small in-car video cameras to monitor pedal reactions, eye and head movement, and expressions of the driver as he or she traveled along a 35-mile route that included city and non-city roads. A researcher rode along for safety reasons.

The authors tallied 76 different driving errors, including incorrect stops and failure to stay in the proper lane. Their research, published in this month’s Neurology, reports that drivers with Alzheimer’s disease made an average of 42 safety mistakes, while non-Alzheimer’s drivers made 33 road errors — or 21% fewer slip-ups.

The most common gaffes were lane violations, Dawon says. “We saw about a 50% increase in crossing-the-line errors in Alzheimer’s patients,” he says, noting that all of the participants still had their driver’s licenses.

Dawson says he hopes the research will lead to development of potential interventions and alerting devices for the cars of Alzheimer’s patients.

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Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer’s: study

January 15, 2009, Stockholm (AFP)

Middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee significantly reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a study by Finnish and Swedish researchers showed Thursday.

“Middle-aged people who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by between 60 and 65 percent later in life,” said lead researcher on the project, Miia Kivipelto, a professor at the University of Kuopio in Finland and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The study, which was also conducted in cooperation with the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease this month, was based on repeated interviews with 1,409 people in Finland over more than two decades.

They were first asked about their coffee-drinking habits when they were in their 50s and their memory functions were tested again in 1998, when they were between 65 and 79 years of age.

A total of 61 people had by then developed dementia, 48 of whom had Alzheimer’s, the researchers said.

“There are perhaps one or two other studies that have shown that coffee can improve some memory functions (but) this is the first study directed at dementia and Alzheimer’s (and) in which the subjects are followed for such a long time,” Kivipelto told AFP.

She said it remained unclear exactly how moderate coffee drinking helped delay or avoid the onset of dementia, but pointed out that coffee contains strong antioxidants, which are known to counter Alzheimer’s.

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NYers Of The Week: Alzheimer’s Support Groups Help Caretakers Through Tough Times

by Michael Scott
February 14, 2009, NY1 News

Since Alzheimer’s disease saps the strength not only of its victims but also of caretakers, a group of city volunteers are serving as pillars of strength, to make the lonely struggle a bit easier.

At a time when most people her age were going to clubs or out on dates, Elana Sinsaburgh found herself taking care of her 58-year-old mother full time. Eight years ago, Sandra Bass had mistakenly put a glove inside a microwave. Soon after, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“I felt very alone in what I was going through and I felt, you know, that my friends were supportive but they couldn’t really understand,” says Sinsabaugh.

Sophie Finkelman, one of the many volunteers who lead 130 different Alzheimer’s support groups throughout the five boroughs, understands Sinsabaugh’s condition. For years, Finkelman lived with a mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“It was very difficult to become eventually the manager of a person who had been your manager, who had helped you make decisions, guided you through things,” says Finkelman.

Finkelman sought the help of the Alzheimer’s Association, and they recommended that she join a support group. Now, Finkelman helps run the support group that she says “saved her.”

“I would say it’s very important for people who are caregivers to find a network of people where they feel safe,” says Finkelman.

Most of the support group volunteers have at some time cared for someone with the disease.

“The caregiver support groups are in many ways the keystone of the Alzheimer’s Association,” says Jed Levine, the executive vice president of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Levine says about 250,000 New Yorkers live with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder.

Support group leaders lend a shoulder to cry on, an open ear and an open heart.

“I know when [my support group leader] tells me certain things or ways to deal with the situation I know that she’s speaking from a very personal experience,” says Sinsabaugh.

“People who attend the support groups report to us, tell us that because they have attended the support groups they were able to keep their head above water, they were able to survive this,” says Levine.

So, for providing a life jacket for the caregivers of those living with Alzheimer’s, support group leaders for the Alzheimer’s Association are our New Yorker’s of the Week.

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