Finding an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s has become a priority for the U.S. government.
Regardless, an estimated 5.4 million Americans already have Alzheimer’s or similar dementias — and how to help their families cope with day-to-day care is a priority, the advisory committee made clear Tuesday.
The disease is growing steadily as the population ages: By 2050, 13 million to 16 million Americans are projected to have Alzheimer’s, costing $1 trillion in medical and nursing home expenditures. That doesn’t count the billions of dollars in unpaid care provided by relatives and friends.
Among the goals being debated for the national plan:
—Begin a national public awareness campaign of dementia’s early warning signs, to improve timely diagnosis.
—Give primary care doctors the tools to assess signs of dementia as part of Medicare’s annual check-up.
—Have caregivers’ health, physical and mental, regularly checked.
—Improve care-planning and training for families so they know what resources are available for their loved one and themselves.