Though Alzheimer’s disease already carries a hefty $307 billion price tag in annual healthcare expenses, treatment and care-related costs are expected to quintuple to $1.5 trillion by 2050 in the U.S.

Julie Zissimopoulos, an assistant professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy, led the research study, in collaboration with Eileen Crimmins of the USC Davis School of Gerontology and Patricia St. Clair of the USC Schaeffer Center, to model the future impact of Alzheimer’s disease.

The neurodegenerative disease has no cure and as members of the baby boomer generation get older, the number of individuals over the age of 70 with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase by 153 percent, from 3.6 to 9.1 million cases. Alzheimer’s annual cost, which was $71,000 in 2010, will double by 2050.

“It is so expensive because individuals with Alzheimer’s disease need extensive help with daily activities provided by paid caregivers or by family members who may be taking time off of work to care for them, which has a double impact on the economy,” Zissimopoulos said in a release. “In late stages of the disease, they need help with personal care and lose the ability to control movement which requires 24-hour care, most often in an institutional setting.”

The study highlights the benefit of medical advances. If the onset of Alzheimer’s can be delayed by five years, the major financial costs of the disease, for both society and caretakers, can be reduced by 40 percent, according to the team’s research.

The research article, titled “The Value of Delaying Alzheimer’s Disease Onset,” was posted online ahead of publication by the Forum for Health Economics and Policy on Nov. 4.


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