Medicare identifies Alzheimer’s as potential healthcare crisis

Posted By: Megan Conway

mconway@klkntv.com

Did you know Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country?

One research scientist is trying to find solutions to combat this looming problem.

“This is a big deal. Medicare has identified this as being one of the potential healthcare crises that’s going to affect our country, and more broadly affect most of the rest of the world,” says Dr. Steve Bonasera, UNMC research scientist.

Dr. Bonasera isn’t talking about Zika or Ebola. The threatening crisis he’s talking about is Alzheimer’s.

“It is thought that within 50 years, we will be spending more than $10 trillion a year on Alzheimer’s costs,” says Bonasera.

So, what makes this disease so costly?

“First of all, we don’t have a good treatment for it. Unlike other diseases, where we can slow down their progress and keep people at a functional state, we don’t have medications or interventions that do that for Alzheimer’s disease,” says Bonasera.

Once people fighting the disease are unable to take care of themselves, the task falls to their loved ones, who may have to quit their jobs or work less. Dr. Bonasera is doing a study to help these caregivers manage this difficult job. He’s trying to keep more Alzheimer’s patients at home instead of in nursing homes, which at times can be expensive.

“Essentially, every month that you postpone nursing home placement is $6,000-$10,000 that Medicare doesn’t spend on Alzheimer’s costs. Multiple that by millions of people over the country per year, and we can potentially cut some of these care giving costs by up to 25%. That’s with no new drugs,” says Bonasera.

He’s determined to help struggling families by providing them support and information.

Then someday….

“Most of the money we spend on Alzheimer’s disease won’t cure it, but one day, we will find a cure,” says Bonasera

They’re still looking for people to participate in their study. It doesn’t cost anything. If you or someone you know might be interested, just click on this link for more information or you can contact them by email at care.eco@unmc.edu or by phone (402) 552-7200. 

Again, the "Walk to End Alzheimer’s" will be this Sunday, September 18th at 1 p.m. at Holmes Lake in Lincoln.