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Alzheimer's numbers expected to increase

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Amarillo, Texas - Patients with Alzheimer's disease are expected to more than double in the next few decades.

Today more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. That number is expected to more than triple within the next three decades according to a report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association. But, it isn't just the number of people with the disease that's rising.

"I think the most staggering reports are how much money we are spending on the disease itself. We're spending $203 billion," Tracy Sommers, Alzheimer's Association Area Director says.

Medicare accounts for $107 billion of that amount followed by $35 billion for Medicaid. But by the year 2050 the cost of care is expected to dramatically increase to $1.2 trillion dollars.

"With more people getting Alzheimer's it's requiring more care. Alzheimer's and dementia patients require a different kind of care than most anybody else that's sick," Lorry Parker, Executive Director for The Cottages Alzheimer's Car Facility says.

Those with the disease need 24 hour care. And the costs aren't cheap, especially for those who don't receive help from Medicare.

"And if you need that 24/7 the going rate for that right now is $18 an hour. I see that increasing as... It's kind of like supply and demand. They're going to be needed more so the rate's going to go up," Parker says.

All assisted living homes in Amarillo are private pay, making it difficult for many to find help who rely on Medicare.

Advocates say the rising cost of care will hurt the entire country.

"That will bankrupt our country if we wait until 2050 when that amount is supposed to total that $1.2 trillion," Sommers says.

That's because there won't be enough money left in Medicare and Social Security funds to pay for Alzheimer's care.

The Alzheimer's Association is saying more funding is needed for research to find a cure. Finding a cure or a way to prevent the disease would reduce these increasing numbers.

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