In US dementia more costly than heart disease or cancer

WebMD has a sobering report detailing a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It seems that in the USA, medical bills resulting from dementia are higher than those from heart disease or cancer. Here are the numbers cited:

The cost of caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may now be as high as $215 billion a year — more than the cost of caring for heart disease or cancer, a new study finds.

And that number is expected to escalate as the elderly population grows.

Sobering indeed. Also, if my personal experience reflects reality, dementia can come on fast. I have a relative who was moving into an assisted living facility one day, and was in a Hospice Alzheimer’s unit shortly thereafter. It’s scary stuff.

Dementia is a progressive deterioration in memory, thinking ability, judgment and other vital brain functions.

Sadly, as costs escalate, professionals say there’s “no solution in sight.”

Study author Hurd said the findings highlight two big needs: some sort of health insurance program to cover long-term care and more research into ways to slow the progression of dementia or delay its onset.

I can’t help but wonder if lifestyle interventions could be helpful in this regard. I mean seriously, the American diet is pretty bad. And regular exercise? What’s that?

But there are clinical trials under way, looking at both drugs and other approaches — such as exercise — to forestall dementia.

“There is reason for hope and optimism,” Hodes said.

I hope he’s correct.

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