County Report on Alzheimer’s Details Costs, Tolls of Dementias

Two studies released today show an increasing economic and physical toll of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on San Diego County families and the region’s health care economy.

The pair of studies, produced by the County’s Health and Human Services Agency, say the San Diego County region can expect the cost to provide care for those suffering and the number of caregivers needed will both balloon by 2030.

They were highlighted as part of an announcement that the federal government has awarded a $1.3 million grant to Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute to advance the local search for a cure.

The Economic Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in San Diego County” says that the current price tag that currently exceeds $38 billion for the lifetime cost of care for local residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia will increase to more than $52 billion by 2030.

Meanwhile, the number of family members and caregivers needed to help sufferers will grow from the current 214,000 to nearly 300,000 by 2030 according to the “Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in San Diego County” report.

The number of County residents age 55 and older with dementia is expected to increase from an estimated 84,000 today to 115,000 by 2030.

The studies are part of the work of The Alzheimer’s Project, a County-led initiative that has gained national recognition, and its spinoff, Collaboration4Cure. Collaboration4Cure has brought together the region’s top research institutions with Alzheimer’s San Diego to expand the drive to find a treatment or cure.

Some risk factors for Alzheimer’s and related dementias cannot be controlled or prevented. The study, however, says there is growing evidence that it may be possible to delay, slow down, or even prevent the onset of the dementias by practicing some of the following brain strategies:

  • eat a healthy diet of dark-skinned vegetables and fruits with high antioxidant levels
  • get active and stay active with at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day
  • connect with family, friends and community
  • manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, vascular disease, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • learn new things and keep the brain active
  • make sure you get seven to eight hours of sleep per night
  • drink alcohol in moderation

The County’s Aging & Independence Services offers many programs and activities that help older adults stay active. The Feeling Fit Club and Senior Tai Chi classes are offered at dozens of locations across the county.

Intergenerational programs are offered that pair up older adults and youth for mentorships, gardening, tutoring and the annual Intergenerational Games.

The County also has several volunteer programs to help seniors stay active in the community such as the Retired & Senior Volunteer program that works with over 200 local organizations, the Legacy Corps that provides respite services to family members caring for veterans to the innovative Life Options Center where seniors can go and socialize, take a class or make connections to stay active.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact