The Alzheimer's Association urged Congress to move the issue of long-term care financing to the top of the nation's domestic agenda.
In his presentation before the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, Bill Keane of Newtown, Pennsylvania, Cochair of the Alzheimer's Association's Public Policy Committee, stated "Longterm care is already a crisis for millions of American families. Within our lifetime, it will overwhelm our health-care system if we do not address it responsibly now."
The US Office of Technology Assessment and the National Institute on Aging estimate that the cost to the nation of caring for Alzheimer victims exceeds $90 billion per year. But the total economic cost is even higher as family members struggle to balance the care requirements of a loved one with other family responsibilities, employment, and their own well being.
Nearly 80% of America's 4 million Alzheimer patients are cared for in the home at a staggering average cost of $18,000 annually. The average cost of nursing home care ranges between $25,000 and $40,000 annually, with more than 50% of all nursing home patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other cognitive impairments.
Using his personal experience of caring for his mother and aunt, who suffered from Alzheimer's, Keane explained that Alzheimer's disease "leaves behind an empty shelf" of a person who often remains physically healthy. Although families do not want the government to take away their responsibilities, Keane said, they need help.
In response to these needs and concerns, the Alzheimer's Association supports a federal long-term care social insurance program that will provide universal, comprehensive protection to Americans of all ages and income.
For more information, contact Judy Riggs, Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association, 70 E. Lake Street, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60601 ; 31 2-8533060.