Alzheimer's Essay

2484 Words Apr 27th, 2012 10 Pages
Alzheimer’s Disease
Kathryn Hardcastle,
PSY 340
February 5, 2012
Chris Garwick-Foley

Alzheimer ’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes a gradual and irreversible decline of cognitive abilities (Feldman, 2010, p. 325). Informally known as “old timers” disease, it strikes more than half of the elderly community greater than age 85 (Feldman, 2010). In addition to the loss of memory there are also major neurological, functional, and behavioral changes as well. There are a few risk factors including age, family history, and head injuries. There is no definitive way of predicting that a person will get Alzheimer’s, but there are genetic markers and neurological tests that can signify a person’s
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Race may also play a role as African Americans are two times more likely and Hispanics one and one half times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than Caucasians (Alzheimer’s Association, 2011).
Financial and Economic Costs
The monetary toll of Alzheimer’s falls into three categories; direct costs, indirect costs, and the loss of income potential of patients (Hay, 1987).
Direct costs are medical and social support costs that include diagnosis, home care, and nursing home care. Most formal health care comes from direct-care workers who include nurse aides, personal aides, and home health aides. They assist with personal care, housekeeping, and food preparation (Alzheimer’s Association, 2011).
Estimations are that by 2030 the United States will need 3.5 million more health care providers just to maintain the current ratio of workers to patients. Very few providers specialize in geriatrics, and there is worry that there will not be enough in the coming years (Alzheimer’s Association, 2011). Indirect costs associated with Alzheimer’s include unpaid care provided by family and volunteers. In 2010 estimations, 17 million hours of care were provided by 14.9 million unpaid caregivers. At a value of $11.93 per hour, this averages out to $202.6 billion dollars. These caregivers run the risk of becoming

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