CLEVELAND - The baby boomers have redefined every stage of life. This year, as 10,000 boomers a day turn 65, a looming health crisis may redefine them and have an enormous impact on the nation.
Five million Americans now have Alzheimer's disease. Numbers from the Alzheimer's Association in Cleveland show that here in Ohio, 230,000 people have the disease right now, with nearly double that number of family members and friends who have to cope with the devastating toll on their health, well being, jobs and finances.
"Even though this disease kills more Americans than diabetes, and more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, there are still too few people who understand the anguish caused by Alzheimer's," said Nancy Udelson, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association.
According to the national report Generation Alzheimer's, an estimated 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's, with one in eight dying with or from the disease. Now the unprecedented demographic shift presented by the aging baby boomer generation calls for new urgency in changing the trajectory of the disease. Alzheimer's is not normal aging. But age is the greatest risk factor for the disease. Currently, there is no proven way to cure, prevent or even slow progression of Alzheimer's.
The financial burden on families coping with Alzheimer's is magnified by the potential impact on the nation's health care system, Medicare and Medicaid. Over the next 40 years, costs associated with Alzheimer's will reach 20 trillion dollars. This is enough to pay off the national debt, and send a $20,000 check to every man, woman and child in America.
The full report of the Alzheimer's Association's Generation Alzheimer's can be viewed here: http://www.alz.org/boomers