Ability to care for older Americans faces serious challenges as burden of Alzheimer’s grows, report says


More than one in nine older adults in the U.S. is living with Alzheimer’s disease, and the number of people affected is expected to double in the next two decades, rising to 13 million by 2050, according to a new study Report From the Alzheimer’s Association.

Treatment of the disease is taking promising steps forward, but some people’s reluctance to discuss cognitive challenges with healthcare providers hinders their ability to catch early warning signs and initiate appropriate interventions.

“For the first time in nearly two decades, a class of treatments for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease has emerged. If an individual has memory problems or develops symptoms, rapid action Action is more important than ever. ”

Most Americans want to know if they have Alzheimer’s disease if it can be treated early, but most also say they don’t know the link between normal signs of aging and a specific medical diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, the report says the difference.

Still, a survey included in the report found that only four in 10 people who worry about their memory and thinking skills are declining talk to their doctor immediately if they notice memory or other cognitive decline.

“You could just follow through and lose the idea that it’s not OK,” said Dr. Amy Arnsten, a professor of neuroscience at the Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new report. “A lot of people are hesitant to bring it up themselves, but it can start a whole conversation and show that people do need more support.”

But nearly all primary care physicians surveyed said they wait for patients or family members to raise these concerns, according to the new report, suggesting a breakdown in communication on both sides.

In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to lecanemab, one of the first experimental dementia drugs that appears to slow the progression of cognitive decline.

It targets the underlying disease process of Alzheimer’s rather than just treating the symptoms of the disease. But it has raised safety concerns because it has been linked to certain serious adverse events, including brain swelling and bleeding.

More than 140 unique therapies are being tested in clinical trials that target multiple aspects of Alzheimer’s biology, the report said.

“Both physicians and patients need to make discussions about cognition a regular part of their interactions,” said Dr. Nicole Purcell, neurologist and senior director of clinical practice at the Alzheimer’s Association. “These new therapies treat mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer’s disease by identifying amyloid, so it’s important that the conversation between patient and physician occurs early, or as soon as symptoms appear, while treatment is still possible.” and provide the greatest benefit.”

Some physicians who participated in the survey expressed concern about the quality of care after an Alzheimer’s or other dementia diagnosis.

There has been a shortage of geriatricians for more than a decade, and the situation is only expected to get worse as the U.S. population ages and the elderly population explodes by more than 50 percent by 2050.

To effectively care for the number of older adults projected to be living with Alzheimer’s dementia by 2050, the number of practicing geriatricians must nearly triple, the report said.

But a more regular diagnosis of Alzheimer’s could lead to an influx of patients that “could quickly become a crisis,” the report said, adding to the challenges for staff focused on caring for that patient and others with dementia. Say “could be a crisis”.

Unpaid caregivers of millions of Alzheimer’s patients also face a looming threat.

Caregivers may experience more negative emotions, including stress, depression and anxiety, as well as worsening health problems and personal finances, a burden that will only increase with the number of people requiring care, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Continue growing.

Nationally, the cost of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is $24 billion higher than it was a year ago, reaching a total of $345 billion by 2023, the report said. Caregiving assistance is also worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

“Providing the best care for Alzheimer’s disease requires conversations about memory at the earliest point of concern and a knowledgeable, accessible care team that includes diagnosis, monitoring of disease progression and, when appropriate, treatment specialist in internal medicine,” Carrillo said.

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