Fewer than half of Alzheimer's patients told they have it
According to the 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report from The Alzheimer's Association, only 45 percent of Alzheimer’s patients have been told by their doctors that they have the condition. By contrast, the report notes, more than 90 percent of people with breast, prostate, colorectal or lung cancers were told of their diagnosis by a doctor.
Too often, the report suggests, people with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers weren’t officially given an Alzheimer's diagnosis until it progressed to advanced stages. A later diagnosis can make it more difficult to plan for the future.
"These distrubingly low disclosure rates in Alzheimer's disease are reminiscent of rates seen for cancer in the 1950s and 60s, when even mention of the wrod cancer was taboo," said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of Constituent Services for the Alzheimer's Association.
In addition to the low disclosure rates, the report chronicles the mortality and economic effects of the condition. Between 2000 and 2013, deaths from Alzheimer have risen 71 percent. In comparison, death rates from heart disease and stroke have decreased. Alzheimer’s is currently the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth-leading cause of death for people over the age of 65. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.3 million Americans now have Alzheimer's, a figure projected to jump to 13.8 million by 2050.
The report says that Alzheimer’s is also the most costly disease. The estimated costs for caring for Alzheimer’s patients in 2015 are $226 billion, with $153 billion being taken from Medicare and Medicaid.
Authors of the report say the federal government should increase federal contributions by $300 million in 2016 to be used for better research and diagnostic tools.