Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is largely a disease of age. The longer a person lives the more likely they are to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In fact, almost half of those over age 85 have Alzheimer’s type dementia. As our natural lifespan increases the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will increase as well. Couple this with the aging of America and the baby boomer generation reaching the age where Alzheimer’s typically strikes and a looming crisis begins to emerge.
We’ve all heard the statement, “50 is the new 40” or “60 is the new 50” or (any decade) is the new (previous decade minus 10). What these statements boil down to is the fact that we are healthier and living longer. New medicines, new treatments, earlier diagnosis and a healthier environment have all helped us live longer. But living longer isn’t better if our quality of life doesn’t let us enjoy those added years and the impact on the cost to the healthcare system can be enormous.
When I think of preventive care, I think of a person who enjoys life, however, when I think of acute care, I am reminded of a person who really does not care, a person who has no concerns of ever being sick. Many have the rationale that we all have to die with something. This is saying to me; do I choose, life, death, pain, suffering, surgery, therapy? There is no question for me; I choose LIFE.
The answer is a multi-pronged approach based on a very simple premise: healthy seniors live happier more productive lives and save tax dollars through reduced healthcare expenditures.
Essentially, mitigating risk factors comes down to education and providing access to building blocks of good health. The Medicines in Development for Older Americans report clearly shows the importance of educating seniors about the correlations of medication adherence to staying healthy and out of the hospital.