Alzheimer’s disease: The impact on one local family

The Alzheimer’s Association’s “2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report says that, in Georgia, there are 140,000 people living with Alzheimer’s dementia. My husband was one of these.

I am concerned for the future care of those still living with Alzheimer’s and those yet to be diagnosed. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country, and its impact on families, including mine, can be devastating.

The report revealed that for the first time, total payments for caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have surpassed a quarter of a trillion dollars ($259 billion).

Medicare and Medicaid cover the lion’s share – covering $175 billion, or 67 percent of the total health care and long-term care payments for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. More than one in four seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are currently on Medicaid.

It is essential that Congress and the Administration maintain the Medicaid long-term safety net while expanding other options and support for those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

My husband was diagnosed at age 56, with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. After 38 years of service, he had to leave the Atlanta Journal and Constitution on disability. He was required to go on Social Security Disability and Medicare at age 56. That was nine years earlier than he would have.

Medicare paid the largest portion of his care, and he started drawing on his Social Security at an earlier age. The cost for his care during the course of the disease consisted of numerous emergency room visits, a behavioral hospital stay, and hospice care at the end.

Of patients in hospice care, 22 percent have a diagnosis of dementia. My husband died on Sept. 28, 2015. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in Georgia. This left the family without a husband, father, son, brother, and grandfather. Not to mention a financial burden for our family from medical bills and lack of income.

Visit the Alzheimer’s Association at ALZ.org or call 800-272-3900 to learn more and get involved with the fight against Alzheimer’s. Please urge (Congressman Drew Ferguson) your elected representative in Washington, D.C., to give his full support in making Alzheimer’s a top priority on Capitol Hill.

Jacqueline Miller
Peachtree City, Ga.