Cost of Alzheimer's Disease Staggering, Growing Steadily

By Wolfe, Lou Anne | THE JOURNAL RECORD, January 8, 1994 | Go to article overview

Cost of Alzheimer's Disease Staggering, Growing Steadily


Wolfe, Lou Anne, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Journal Record Staff Reporter

Alzheimer's disease causes great emotional cost to its victims and their families, but the dollar amount is equally staggering and it's growing steadily.

Dr. Roger A. Brumback, who does research on Alzheimer's disease at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, said some 4.5 million Americans currently suffer from the disease. That's expected to grow to 6 million by 2000 and to a whopping 10 million people in 2030, he said.

Brumback, who is director of the Diagnostic Center for Alzheimer's Disease and Neuropathology Laboratory, estimated 20,000 victims of the disease live in Oklahoma. The number will sharply increase during the next 30 to 40 years, he said.

Now for the staggering part: each victim of Alzheimer's disease requires an expenditure of at least $25,000 per year for health care, including specialized medical care, nursing homes and social services. Brumback said annual expenses for the disease are more than $100 billion in the United States and about $500 million in Oklahoma.

"Alzheimer's disease victims live an average of seven years after the onset of the disease," he said. Multiplied by $25,000, that's a minimum health care cost of $175,000.

Put another way, a hypothetical person on a minimum wage of $10,000 per year would be spending 17 years' worth of pay to cover expenses caused by the dreaded disease, Brumback said. And health insurance doesn't cover Alzheimer's.

"For most situations, you deplete every dollar a person has until he goes on welfare, goes on Medicaid, and Medicaid doesn't pay nursing homes enough for care, so people drift to substandard nursing homes and die more quickly," he said.

Many people either have relatives or acquaintances who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, so at least the name's familiar. Precisely what happens is, "the nerve cells in the brain are deteriorating and dying. You start losing them, and soon you don't have the number you need to think," Brumback said. "We don't know why the nerve cells are dying, and that's the challenge."

Research physicians are seeking to discover what's killing the nerve cells and how to prevent it from happening.

"Despite everything that's written in the papers, we really don't understand it," he said. "Alzheimer's disease receives a disproportionately small amount of research dollars compared to other current priorities, and this is one of the major diseases in this country at this time."

Because Alzheimer's disease touches so many people, it is a popular project for research scientists, Brumback said. It has resulted in some findings being unduly hyped in publications in the hope of garnering research grants, he said. "Really, we haven't achieved that much over the past few years."

In the mid-19th century, it was politically popular to view people over 65 as "senile," which could be the reason for that age being a benchmark retirement age, Brumback said. But not all people above that age are truly demented _ in fact, a great many are normal.

A scientist named Alzheimer, for whom the disease is named, studied a 50-year-old woman who experienced a progressive loss of her intellectual functions over three years. He examined her brain tissue under a microscope, and found plaques and tangles, which are now known to be characteristics of the disease, Brumback said.

"She was senile before her time. They thought it was premature aging," he said. "Subsequently, people called it `Alzheimer's disease.' "

So, up to the 1970s, Alzheimer's was considered to be a rare form of premature aging of the brain, and everybody was considered to be senile when they reached age 65, Brumback said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cost of Alzheimer's Disease Staggering, Growing Steadily
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.