Women bear the majority of costs for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from researchers at Emory University. As reported by Pacific Standard, women bear six times as much of the cost for caring for Alzheimer’s patients.
The study’s authors look at direct costs – spending money on fees for home care aides or long-term care facilities – as well as indirect costs, like lost productivity due to serving as caretaker for a spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s disease.
Women bear so much more of the costs for a variety of reasons. First, women are likely to contract Alzheimer’s disease, both because women live longer, and because women appear more susceptible to the disease for reasons unknown. Second, women are more likely than men to serve as a caretaker for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s.
As the baby boomer generation ages and more people suffer from Alzheimer’s, lost productivity of caretakers could become a significant drain on the economy. This is particularly true when caretakers are adult children taking care of their parents. These caretakers are often in their working years, and may also be taking care of their own children. Taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient is a draining role to which family-caretakers often devote more than twenty unpaid hours per week. If more women are forced to shoulder this burden during their peak working years, it could have an impact on the economy.
The study raises an interesting and provocative question: If men bore as much of the cost of Alzheimer’s as women, would there be more effort and resources put into finding a cure? Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. At any given time, there are five million people in the country suffering from Alzheimer’s. Yet research efforts on the disease receive a fraction of the resources of other diseases, and much less than researchers say is needed to make meaningful progress towards a cure.
In any event, it’s certainly true that Alzheimer’s disease imposes significant costs on patients and their families, but government programs are available to help, including the Medicaid long term care benefit. For more information on coping with the costs of Alzheimer’s, call or email FriedmanLaw today.