New Report Says Alzheimer’s Disease and
Dementia Triple Healthcare Costs
March 24, 2009, Alzheimer’s Association
Over Age 65
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
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.
January 9, 2009, Los Angeles
The Alzheimer’s Project, a pioneering multi-part,
multi-platform series bringing
and hope for millions and revealing human faces
the disease, debuts in May on HBO
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
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.com,
HBO Channel on YouTube and DVD sales, to support
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.
Read Full Article
by Steven Reinberg
Obesity, Diabetes and Heart Disease May Speed
Dementia — Expert urges people to
lifestyle after reports find a connection
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
“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.
Read Full Article
by Mary Brophy Marcus
Early Alzheimer’s Can Erode Driving Skills
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.
Read Full Article
January 15, 2009, Stockholm (AFP)
Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer’s: study
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.
Read Full Article
NYers Of The Week: Alzheimer’s Support Groups
Help Caretakers Through Tough Times
by Michael Scott
February 14, 2009, NY1 News
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
“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 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
“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.
Read Full Article
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