Previously published in Examiner on April 6, 2013
The latest buzz on the medical scene is that dementia treatment is more costly than cancer and heart disease. According to globalpost published today, “Cancer and heart disease are bigger killers, but Alzheimer’s is the most expensive malady in the U.S., costing families and society $157 billion to $215 billion a year, according to a new study that looked at this in unprecedented detail. The biggest cost of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia isn’t drugs or other medical treatments, but the care that’s needed just to get mentally impaired people through daily life, the nonprofit RAND Corp.’s study found.”
Globalpost goes on to say, “Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Dementia also can result from a stroke or other diseases. It is rapidly growing in prevalence as the population ages. Current treatments only temporarily ease symptoms and don’t slow the disease. Patients live four to eight years on average after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but some live 20 years. By age 80, about 75 percent of people with Alzheimer’s will be in a nursing home compared with only 4 percent of the general population, the Alzheimer’s group says.”
According to Alzheimer’s Society, “Dementia is an umbrella term. It describes the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by certain diseases or conditions. There are many different types of dementia although some are far more common than others. They are often named according to the condition that has caused the dementia.
Here in Canada we do not pay for heart or cancer treatment with our universal health care, but there are only a few homes which are government run. Most people have to pay to have their loved ones taken care of in a nursing home facility.
My experience with a person who has dementia
My boyfriend’s mother is 87-years-old and she has dementia. Her memory is failing her. She will ask the same question over and over again such as what day is it? She is beginning to believe things that she makes up in her own mind. For example, she called my boyfriend at work to tell him to come home because his office was on fire. He could not convince her that he was at work and there was no fire.
She is no longer capable of staying alone. Three times she almost set the kitchen on fire, by leaving a pot on an open burner. After her diagnosis, my boyfriend had to arrange for a caregiver to stay at the house at all times.
Because home care is not free in Canada for people who have dementia, my boyfriend has to put the majority of the cost of his mother’s home care while the government only pays about 20 percent of it. It is quite costly and my boyfriend is almost retired. He really doesn’t have that money to pay out. However, he just cannot bring himself to put his mother in a home. He feels it would break her heart. I feel it would break his heart if he had to do it