The number of Alzheimer’s continues to grow in Ohio | News, Sports, Jobs

As lawmakers talk about improving access to health care in every corner of Ohio — and staffing shortages continue to plague health care and long-term care facilities — the Association Alzheimer has released its 2023 data for the state. The trends are worrying.

There are now 220,000 Ohioans living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2025, this number is expected to reach 250,000, a 13.6% increase in prevalence. The management of these patients differs. There are 493,000 UNPAID caregivers in the state. They are family members who undertake a labor of love, but often become exhausted in the process. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 60% of these caregivers have chronic health conditions themselves. On the other hand, 17% of palliative care residents suffer from some form of dementia. Medicaid costs for caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease are $2.534 billion and are projected to increase 16% by 2025. Medicare spending for people with dementia is approximately $29,440 per person.

It is a huge, costly and exhausting problem and it will only grow.

But in Ohio, there were only 163 geriatricians in 2021. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the increase needed to meet demand by 2050 is 229.4%. In 2020, the state had 95,560 health care aides and home health aides, and will need a 24% increase to meet demand by 2030.

“The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is estimated to be $345 billion in 2023, rising to $1 trillion (in today’s dollars) by the middle of the century,” the association said.

It’s yet another in a long list of issues that Ohio doesn’t have enough resources to address now, let alone ways to address it as it grows. We don’t have enough affordable and accessible child care; the state does not have enough nurses and home health professionals. Families find themselves making difficult choices at the youngest and oldest stages of life, with those in the middle sacrificing and wearing themselves out.

Policy makers, educators, healthcare professionals and families must prepare for this growing burden on us all – even as we hope researchers get closer to more effective treatments and perhaps even a cure for these diseases. Although they work hard, we have to be realistic about what the future holds.

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