A new report predicts how the number of Iowans with Alzheimer’s disease will grow in the coming years as will the costs to care for them. There’s no cure for the memory-robbing disease and the report calls Alzheimer’s a “significant threat” because of Iowa’s high percentage of residents over age 65.
Dennis Fraise, of Burlington, is spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Iowa Chapter. Fraise says the state must prepare to deal with this growing public health problem. The number of patients with Alzheimer’s continues climbing, Fraise says, with the numbers in Iowa rising from 65,000 to 69,000 in the past decade, while 77,000 will likely be afflicted by 2025.
That’s a projected rise of 18% over the next 15 years. Fraise says many Iowans are struggling to care for a family member who has Alzheimer’s. The report finds family members are providing care at home for about 70% of people nationwide with Alzheimer’s disease.
“In Iowa alone, there are well over 100,000 caregivers and they provide 121-million hours of unpaid care for loved ones,” Fraise says. “It comes out to a little over $1.3-billion in terms of the value of those caregivers. The impact on families is really dramatic and it’s something that’s going to continue to increase in the state and nation.”
He says the figures are staggering and they’ll only get worse. “Those of us who work closely with the disease certainly look at those numbers and realize how scary they are,” Fraise says. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg when you look at where we’re going to be headed.” The report says more than 40% of family and other unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, compared with 28% of caregivers of other older adults.
Fraise says early detection, diagnosis and intervention are vital because each can provide the best opportunities for treatment, support and planning for the future. See the full report at: “www.alz.org” or reach the Iowa chapter at: “www.alz.org/greateriowa“