1 in 3 Seniors Dies with Alzheimer's or Other Dementia

Without a medical breakthrough, by 2050 the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease could reach 13.8 million

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013  |  Updated 10:40 AM PDT
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Two new reports, one from the National Center for Health Statistics and another from the Alzheimer's Association, find the death rate from dementia has increased dramatically in the past decade.The reports also  find one in three senior citizens suffer dementia.  NBC's Erika Edwards reports.

NBC

Two new reports, one from the National Center for Health Statistics and another from the Alzheimer's Association, find the death rate from dementia has increased dramatically in the past decade.The reports also find one in three senior citizens suffer dementia. NBC's Erika Edwards reports.

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A new report from the Alzheimer's Association has some shocking and sobering statistics on the disease that has no cure.

Right now, some 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, and that number is expected to dramatically increase as the "baby boomer" generation ages.

According to the Alzheimer's Association 2013 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures report, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or other form of dementia.

The report says dementia is the second-largest contributor to death, after heart failure.

The emotional cost to families is obvious, but the spiraling costs of care are also expected to skyrocket.

Alzheimer's symptoms include memory loss, poor judgement and changes in thinking and behavior. It is a progressive disease where the dementia symptoms worsen over time.

Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, points out that there are no Alzheimer's survivors. He says if you have the disease, you either die from it or you die with it.

"Now we know that 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia. Urgent, meaningful action is necessary, particularly as more and more people age into greater risk for developing a disease that today has no cure and no way to slow or stop its progression," Johns said.

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or slow its progression.

Alzheimer's is one of those diseases that not only impacts the patient, but also puts a huge burden on families.

Last year, there were more than 15 million caregivers who provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion, according to the Alzheimer's Association. That doesn't take into account the personal toll on the caregiver themselves both medically and emotionally.

When it comes to paid healthcare, the numbers are just as high. According to the new report the total payments for health and long-term care services for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias will total $203 billion this year.

2013 Health and Long-Term Care Services Breakdown

  • Medicare $107 billion
  • Medicaid $35 billion
  • Out-of-Pocket Costs $34 billion
  • Other Sources (HMO, Private Insurance) $27 billion
  • Total $203 billion

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