With no significant treatment and no cure in sight, the Alzheimer’s association annual report projects that by 2025, the number of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s will reach 7.0 million—almost a 27 percent increase from 5.6 million age 65 and older affected in 2019.
It’s the “oldest old,” those over 85 who are most at risk for Alzheimer’s, the association says. In 2019, there are just over two million Americans 85 and older. In 2031 when the first wave of “baby boomers” hit that age, the number will rise to three million.
The cost to society will be substantial, the report says. In 2019 alone, it is estimated $290 billion burden from health care, long-term cases and hospice combined. Medicare and Medicaid will cover $195 billion of that, with out-of-pocket costs to caregivers reaching $63 billion.
Are you asking your doctor to assess your cognitive decline? Only half of the seniors in the survey were being assessed. Only 16% of seniors received follow-up assessments. A comparison of those statistics against those of other wellness check-up items give a clear picture of the disparity. Each visit physicians check cholesterol 83%, vaccination 80% and blood pressure 91%.
So, while physicians say it’s important to assess all patients age 65 and older, fewer than half are saying that it’s part of their standard protocol. A good bit of this might be due to a “strong disconnect” between seniors and their doctors as to who should imitate the conversation. Over 90% of seniors thought their doctor would recommend testing. Fewer than one in seven brought the topic up on their own. Primary care physicians, on the other hand, say they are waiting for senior patients and their families to report symptoms and ask for an assessment.
So, talk to your healthcare provider for a cognitive assessment as part of your next visit!
November 16 is the date of this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Please put it on your calendar!