Alzheimer's cases expected to triple in 40 years - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Alzheimer's cases expected to triple in 40 years

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Amy Lee takes care of her father, Benny, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about 3.5 years ago.

"When he was first diagnosed he would say, oh, what's happening to me? I don't remember anything or something's wrong. But now he's past that phase because his language skills are no longer as strong," Lee said.

More and more Americans are finding themselves in Lee's position.

"There's a lot of frustration," she said. "It's overwhelming."

A new study predicts the number of seniors with the memory-robbing disease is going to skyrocket from about 5 million today to about 13.8 million in 2050.

"The baby boom generation is entering the retirement years and as they age we know the numbers of those with Alzheimer's will increase dramatically," said Robert Egge, the vice president of public policy at the Alzheimer's Association.

As many as 15 million Americans currently care for loved ones with Alzheimer's. As the number of patients goes up, so, too, will the burden on families and society.

Researchers don't know what causes Alzheimer's and there's no cure. Experts say more resources need to go into preventing and treating the disease.

"Right now as a country we are not prepared to deal with this crisis," Egge said.

Lee's dad will turn 90 this summer. She knows his mental faculties will only continue to decline.

"I think there's a point where he's not going to be able to live at home anymore. So, that's going to be a big, sad step," she said.

Her goal is to make sure he has as much dignity as possible as he enters the last phase of his life.

Caring for those with Alzheimer's disease costs about $200 billion a year, mostly through Medicaid and Medicare programs. Experts say that number could increase to as much as $1 trillion by 2050 if nothing is done.

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