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Long-term care must be improved to aid rising numbers with dementia, study finds
Date:6/22/2014

As millions of Americans struggle to help loved ones with dementia, policymakers should consider more ways to improve long-term services and supports for the soaring numbers of people with the debilitating condition and their caregivers, a new RAND Corporation study says -- and it offers possible ways to do so.

Unlike other, existing national plans or reports that focus on either long-term care or dementia, the RAND study examines where these concerns intersect, providing a national blueprint that could bolster dementia caregiving.

Earlier RAND research estimated that about 15 percent of Americans older than 70 suffer from dementia, a condition that includes Alzheimer's disease. The number of seniors with Alzheimer's disease is projected to triple by 2050, afflicting as many as 14 million in the United States.

The annual costs of dementia care, estimated by RAND researchers to be between $159 billion and $215 billion, could more than double by 2040 if the age-specific prevalence rate of the disease remains constant as the nation's population grows older. U.S. policymakers have made funding for clinical responses to dementia a priority.

"A recent study by RAND found that the majority of Americans' cost-burden for dementia is caused by long-term care," said Regina A. Shih, the study's lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "As baby boomers reach the ages of highest dementia risk, the nation faces urgency in finding ways to improve long-term services and supports specifically for this condition. This issue is critical for families and loved ones who provide the bulk of dementia care."

The study outlines 25 high-impact policy options that should be considered for adoption immediately. The recommendations are organized around five objectives:

  • Increase public awareness of dementia to reduce stigma and promote earlier detection.
  • Improve access to and
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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