A facts and figures report from the Alzheimer’s Association revealed that there are 120,000 Washingtonians living with Alzheimer’s Disease and over 6 million affected nationwide.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, a term for memory loss and cognitive changes severe enough to interfere with daily living.
Prior to the pandemic, Alzheimer’s was the third-leading cause of death in Washington, and the only leading cause of death that could not be prevented, cured or even slowed. An estimated 20% of hospice patients in the state are living with a primary diagnosis of dementia.
Nationally, the number of Alzheimer’s deaths has increased 145% since 2000 — while the deaths from other causes such as heart disease, stroke and HIV have all declined, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The number of people affected by the disease in Washington is expected to reach 140,000 by 2025, nearly a 17% increase over the next four years.
Last year alone, Alzheimer’s cost Washington taxpayers $547 million in Medicaid dollars, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Nationally, total payments for all individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in 2021 are estimated to be $355 billion.
While Medicaid and Medicare cover about 67% of these expenses, a whopping $76 billion or 21% are out-of-pocket expenses borne by individuals and families affected by the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association also estimated that Family members and friends provided nearly $257 billion in unpaid care to people living with dementia in 2020. Additionally in Washington State, there are an estimated 292,000 unpaid family caregivers supporting a loved one with the disease. They provided an estimated 426 million hours of care in 2020, valued at over $9.6 billion.
Individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease or close to someone who is living with it can call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline for information, guidance and support at 1-800-272-3900.
The group also offers a number of virtual support groups across the Eastside: three in Bellevue, two in Kirkland, and others in Issaquah, Redmond and Renton.
“Dementia is devastating, both emotionally and financially,” said a spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association, Carrie McBride. “It can be a long and difficult journey, but we want people to know that they don’t have to go through it alone.”