A BLOG ABOUT LIVING IN AND PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT
Budgeting for the Alzheimer’s fight
July 9, 2013, 11:22 AM
By Elizabeth O'Brien
An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease today, and an estimated 7.1 million Americans age 65 and older will have the disease by 2025. In 2013, Alzheimer’s will cost the country $203 billion in treatment costs alone, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The federal government has made treating and preventing the disease a priority. Encore recently spoke to Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, about the Institute’s search for a successful intervention and the impact of the sequester, the automatic spending cuts that took effect earlier this year.
NIHDr. Richard Hodes, fighting an uphill battle.
Tell me about your National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.
The plan is a comprehensive one, with five major goals: to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, to enhance care quality and efficiency, to expand supports for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, to enhance public awareness and engagement, and to improve data to track progress. We recently updated the plan, and one addition was an effort to understand what research is being funded nationally and internationally. The goal is to have a searchable database of all the research, to track it and figure out the gaps.
What developments are you most excited about when it comes to looking for an effective treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s?
We have clinical trials with approaches not feasible until recently. One is in Colombia, with populations who have genetic risk factors for early-onset Alzheimer’s. Family members with the mutation have a 100% chance of getting the disease, often in their 30s or 40s. Biomarkers and bio-imaging have advanced. We’re looking at brain imaging or spinal fluid to identify changes ideally years before any symptoms appea