ASHLAND, Ore. — About one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or dementia, according to a report released Tuesday from the Alzheimer’s Association. The report shows that while other major diseases like heart disease and stroke are declining, Alzheimer’s deaths are rising.
Between 2000 and 2010, Alzheimer’s deaths rose by nearly 70 percent. There is no cure for the disease, or way to prevent it. The disease affects about 5 million people around the country and about 75,000 right here in Oregon. Research shows that 70-year-olds with Alzheimer’s are twice as likely to die within a decade than those without.
Researchers also say that the number of people with Alzheimer’s will continue to rise to roughly 16 million in the next 40 years if no medical breakthroughs are found. Dr. Pat Gillette, an Alzheimer’s expert at the Ashland Community Health Center, says the disease is not only difficult for patients, but caregivers as well.
“Caregivers often will die before the person with Alzheimer’s disease will die, because of that burden, because they’ve had to adapt to that person’s change,” explained Dr. Gillette.
For caregivers or family members caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, it can also be a financial burden costing anywhere from five to ten thousand dollars a year out of pocket. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the disease and other forms of dementia represent over $200 billion in costs this year, which could be up to over a trillion by 2050.
While there are no ways to cure the disease, there are a number of resources for people living with Alzheimer’s. The Oregon chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association offers programs on their website. You can also check out AlzheimerNavigator.org, which has resources to help patients and caregivers create a plan for treatment and therapy.