The Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report reveals that, for the second consecutive year, the total national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will exceed a quarter of a trillion dollars, amounting to $277 billion in 2018. In Washington, there are more than 110,000 people living with Alzheimer’s dementia. My wife, Nancy Johnson, is one of these people, and I worry every day about how we as a family are going to care for her.
After being diagnosed at age 52, she has dedicated her time in joining the Alzheimer’s Association in advocating for more attention to this public health crisis. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country. Medicare and Medicaid cover the lion’s share – $186 billion, or 67 percent, of the total health care and long-term care payments for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Protecting these programs is vital. Finding a treatment that delays the onset of Alzheimer’s will prevent the cost of the disease from engulfing Medicare and Medicaid. National Institutes of Health scientists in their Professional Judgment Budget recommended that Congress increase funding of Alzheimer’s and dementia research by more than $425 million in fiscal year 2019.
The financial toll of this disease – on individuals living with the disease, their families, and the community – is too high. I urge Congressman Dave Reichert to continue his support for people with dementia and those who care for them by working to pass these needed funds.