THE FINANCIAL COST OF ALZHEIMER’S
In terms of those affected, and those who find themselves acting as a caregiver to a suffering loved one, the personal cost of Alzheimer’s is beyond measure – the impact is profoundly felt. The emotional and physical toll upon caregivers cannot simply be turned into a group of statistics. However, the financial cost of Alzheimer’s is measurable. For example, did you know that Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the U.S.? In 2014, the cost amounted to a staggering $226 billion. It appears it will continue to be the most expensive and it will only get worse. It is predicted that, by 2040, the overall annual cost will be an even more staggering $500 billion.
WHY IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE
So just exactly why will it get worse? Simply put, the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers is increasing with sadly no end in sight. More sufferers, more caregivers. In 2013, there were 5 million people affected with the disease. By 2050, it is predicted that number will have risen to 14 million. Yes, we will have even more sufferers, and even more caregivers, with lives profoundly altered beyond recognition.
Caregiving has been viewed as the most contentious issue surrounding the Alzheimer’s disease. You may be well aware that Medicare will cover the costs incurred through hospice care, whether it is provided in the patient’s own home or within a registered medical facility. Unfortunately, in 2014, 15.7 million people – family and friends of those affected by dementia as a whole – actually had to provide a shocking 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care. Yes, you read that right – 17.9 billion hours. Unpaid.
Furthermore, and as mentioned earlier, the emotional toll of acting as a caregiver is huge. When taking the whole spectrum of dementia into consideration, additional financial costs amount to $9.6 billion on an annual basis; this has to pay for the medical treatment of caregivers themselves. It may be no surprise to you that 40% of the above 15.7 million people are sufferers of recognised depression.
THE PROBLEM OF STRESS & ELDER ABUSE
Clearly, Alzheimer’s is a disease which can place a tremendous amount of stress upon both parties involved – the patient and their caregiver. Sadly, there is the issue that, as caregivers struggle to deal with the emotional and physical demands placed on them, instances of Elder Abuse can and do occur. With the patient at risk from a highly stressed, even depressed caregiver, the end result could well be that of a legal family and elder case. Expert witnesses will undoubtedly be brought into the courtroom to provide their expert testimony, whether it is for the caregiving families involved or the Alzheimer’s patients themselves.
Chris Semones, CEO of Expert Witness Network, enjoyed more than twenty years of experience in law and business prior to joining the company. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School and a member of the State Bar of California as well as the New York State Bar Association. As in-house counsel for large tech companies like IBM and Intel, Chris managed every kind of litigation from multi-million dollar patent lawsuits to works compensation, from insurance, contract and construction to employment and bankruptcy matters.