Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease among Older Population Research Paper

Introduction

The target population is the older generation. This is because scientific studies have demonstrated that the risk of developing the disease is positively correlated with age. The disease is highly prevalent among the older generation and has a great impact on quality of life that individual life and it further places so many demands on the healthcare system due to care involved in managing the patients.

Population Demographics

It is estimated that about 3% of men and women aged between 65 years and 74 years have Alzheimer’s disease and over 50% of the population over the age of 85 have the disease. At least one person out of ten people over 65 years has Alzheimer according to ADEAR. It is pertinent to note that having Alzheimer’s disease in old age is not part of the normal process of aging (Administration on Aging, 2003, p. 3). This is just the commonest dementia among older people.

Currently, the disease affects 5.3 million people of older population and slightly over 50% of them are receive their care from home while the rest are in different healthcare facilities across the country. Most of the Alzheimer’s patients are ages 65 years and above, though some patients can develop the disease early as in their 30’s (Administration on Aging, 2003, p. 3).

After the 65 years, it has been found that the probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles after every 5 years and as a result, by the age of 85 years, the risk of acquiring the diseases is about 50%. According to Alzheimer’s disease, the prevalence of the disease is expected to rise to between 12 and 16 million cases by 2050 in America (Sloane et al, 2002, p. 213).

General Impact of Changing Demographics on Health Market

With the number of older population having a steady rise because of improved healthcare system, many American get live up to the life expectancy of 70 years (Hebert et al, 1995, 1356). This has made AD to become number six on the leading causes of deaths in America today. It’s expected that this trend with reach 1 million new cases of the disease per year by 2050.

The healthcare expenses are expected to increase considerably (three-fold) per person, for AD sufferers as well all patients of other dementias compared to other older people without this health condition (Administration on Aging, 2003, p. 4). The Medicaid payment has risen to nine times higher in 2050.

The out-of-pocket expenses have increased to 28% higher for the AD patient population that benefits from Medicare than those without the disease. Those patients who received health care from home record the highest expenses of up to an average of $16,689 per year.

These numbers underscore the potential increase in the US medical burden care burden. There is likely to be a knock-on impact with cost related to management of the disease especially the cost of drugs and hospital care services. These projections may draw federal government involvement, resulting into an initiative for AD that would address provision of extra care for the patients (Brookmeyer et al, 1998, p. 1339).

The numbers also indicate that the AD drug will increase in the market to cater for the growing numbers. So far, this sector has had high-value treatments that have the pursuit of pharmaceutical companies. The prediction of increase cases and cost includes drugs costs hence an opportunities for drug manufacturing firms (Brookmeyer et al, 1998, p. 1339). By 2009, the AD drug market had reached $5 billion.

Key challenges

The main challenge is the cost of care. In most cases AD can last for longs as it’s a chronic condition. Medicare does not pay for these longer healthcare services. It is only for the short-term cases that the Medicare advantage pays for the stay in a health facility (Brookmeyer et al, 1998, p. 1339). Medicare pays only for the first 20 days of stay and when the patient stays for more than these 20 days, the patient has to co-pays the balance of the days.

The second challenge is the prescription medication costs. Medicare usually pays for all the medications that are administered when the patient is admitted in the hospital of any health facility even when they are not AD patient. Medications that are given in the doctor’s office are also covered by the part B provision of Medicare (Sloane et al, 2002, p. 213).

However prescription drugs taken at home are a great challenge. The part D of Medicare provision only covers specific drugs prescribed for AD but still, that would depend on formulary – list of the covered drugs.

Market Needs for AD

The current medications are very costly and this has lead to poor adherences to medication as the patients or their families cannot afford these drugs. Medicare only pays for the drugs given in hospitals and a certain number of drugs for home prescription. This means that pharmaceutical have to develop cheaper alternatives to supplements the current drugs in the market (Brookmeyer et al, 1998, p. 1342).

Alternatively the government should step in and subsidized AD drugs to make them affordable. Moreover, the soaring numbers makes these drugs highly on demand hence the cost increased due to demand dynamics (Hebert et al, 2003, P. 1121).

The healthcare setting is very expensive while the current system is only appropriate for handling acute cases; this makes chronic care a challenge. It seems to disregard that the needs of AD patients require chronic care services, quality service, cost-effective and provide social support (Hebert et al, 2003, P. 1121).

AD patients can be best cared for at home, however, the current programs do not provide adequate funding for ensuring there is safety and proper welfare of AD patients is socially support setting (Brookmeyer et al, 1998, p. 1342). Furthermore, there are very limited alternatives to offer AD patient the psychological and social stimulation needed for symptoms management and slowing disease progression.

Chronic Wellness Program

Considering that AD is a chronic and degenerative medical condition, a chronic wellness program would be very appropriate for handling the disease (Sloane et al, 2002, p. 211). This will allow access to educational support, and care providers will be able to learn best practice, identify products and services to enhance in-home care and allow patient to be serviced by professional care givers who are well conversant with the disease challenges (Hebert et al, 2003, p. 1122).

Individual and Community Support

With the escalating cases of the diseases are portrayed by the demographics, Medicare alone cannot be able to deal within the needs of these patients. Besides, over 70% of the AD patients depend on their families for daily care and the condition has extraordinary financial and emotional burden on the care providers (Meagher et al, 2009, p. 86). This therefore means that all the stakeholders must get involved, from individual patient to the society at large. This is a holistic approach to handle the problem and requires collective effort.

The combined effort would therefore include identification of mutual interests, development of new relationships and forming partnership to pursue these interests (Meagher et al, 2009, p. 86). This will form a network where individuals help in expansion of the objective and the impact of the collective responsibilities for the diseases. The goal should not be anything leas that finding the best cure and management strategy and making it accessible to all those in need of it (Meagher et al, 2009, p. 89).

Reference List

Administration On Aging, (2003). Statistics On The Aging Population. Rockville, MD: US Department Of Health And Human Services; U.S. Bureau Of The Census

Brookmeyer, R., Gray, S., & Kawas, S. (1998). Projections Of Alzheimer’s Disease In The United States And The Public Health Impact Of Delaying Disease Onset. Am J Publ Health, 88,1337–1342.

Hebert, L. E., et al., (1995). Age-Specific Incidence Of Alzheimer’s Disease In A Community Population. Jama 273:1354-59.

Hebert, L.E, et al, (2003). Alzheimer Disease In The US Population: Prevalence Estimates Using The 2000 Census. Arch Neurol; 60:1119–1122.

Meagher, B., Penfield, S., & Lee, R. (2009). Commentary On “A Roadmap For The Prevention Of Dementia II: Leon Thal Symposium 2008. The Megacommunity Approach To Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Dement. 5 (2), 85-92

Sloane P. D., et al. (2002). The Public Health Impact Of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2000–2050: Potential Implication Of Treatment Advances. Annu Rev Publ Health, 23, 213–231

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