Hook Law Center Elder Law Attorney Agrees: U.S. Should Double Alzheimer’s Research Spending
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) December 4, 2013 – A senator and a prominent doctor joined together to call for a doubling of the amount the U.S. government spends on research into Alzheimer's disease each year.
Senator Susan Collins is the senior senator from Maine and Co-Chair of the Senate Alzheimer's Task Force. Ronald C. Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Mayo Clinic. The pair co-authored an article on the disease in a recent issue of Parade magazine.
Virginia elder law attorney Andrew Hook agreed with the senator and doctor's recommendation.
“In my line of work, I see first-hand the toll that Alzheimer's takes on patients and their families,” Hook said. “Nursing home care and assisted-living facilities are very expensive, and home care by family members can be exhausting. Doubling the government research budget for the disease would go a long way to finding effective treatments, prevention and perhaps a cure.”
Collins and Petersen point out that as baby boomers near retirement age, the number of Alzheimer's patients is expected to rise dramatically. Each day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. In 1983, when November was designated National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan, Americans with the disease numbered fewer than two million. Today, they number over five million. Projections indicate that 16 million Americans aged 65 and over may be diagnosed with Alzheimer's by 2050.
As the ranks of patients swell, so will the costs associated with caring for them. Those costs currently amount to more than $200 billion per year, with costs to Medicare and Medicaid making up the bulk of that total — $142 billion. Currently, the U.S. government spends $500 million per year on Alzheimer's research. By comparison, $6 billion is spent on cancer research, $3 billion on HIV/AIDS, and $2 billion on cardiovascular research each year. Collins and Petersen refer to a study by the National Institute on Aging that found that Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, in aggregate, are more costly to the United States than either cancer or heart disease.
As the article points out, mortality rates among patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS and heart disease are falling, suggesting the research spending on these diseases is having a positive effect. However, Alzheimer's-related deaths are rising steeply.
Collins and Petersen conclude by recommending that President Obama and Congress double the amount spent on Alzheimer's research in 2015, and increase it further to $2 billion within the next five years.
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