According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the national number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to nearly triple by 2050 if treatment is not found.
And in the Mountain State, the numbers are just as staggering.
A new report reveals the increasing rate of Alzheimer’s patients isn’t slowing down.
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. And while the rate of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, is declining, Alzheimer’s rates are on the rise.
Doctors have said that, because the disease has no known cure, the burden on medical professionals and patients’ loved ones is enormous.
“It’s a challenge for me in my practice. It’s a challenge for the entire state because of the number of resources it takes to take care of these patients. The numbers are going up simply because people are living longer, and the longer people live, the more likely they will develop a dementia type process,” said Dr. John D. Holloway, MD at OVMC.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 37,000 people 65 or older are living with Alzheimer’s in West Virginia, and if no effective treatments are developed, that number is expected to increase by nearly 19 percent by 2025.
Caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are not immune to the disease’s negative effects. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that the physical and emotional impacts of caregiving resulted in more than $10 billion worth of health care last year alone.
“It truly is a significant emotional burden for the loved ones, for family members, to take care of these individuals because there just simply is not a lot of good feelings when you’re dealing with an individual who you love but who you know cannot express themselves, and particularly when behaviors become a real significant problem,” Dr. Holloway said.
Medical professionals believe the most effective was to tackle the disease is with preventative measures, like staying active and communicating with others.
Dr. Holloway also recommends having a conversation with elderly loved ones while still coherent to see if they are even interested in treatment if diagnosed.