A Boost for Alzheimer’s Research

Alzheimer's research

Would you believe that Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in our country?  It costs more than heart disease and cancer.  Estimates have been made that $277 billion (with a “b”) will be spent in 2018 alone, including the direct cost to Medicare and Medicaid of $186 billion.  One in every $5 dollars that Medicare spends is on patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.  As of today, more than 5 million people are living with this disease in North America alone.  And this number is projected to reach almost 14 million by 2050.

Alzheimer’s research has received the largest-ever funding boost in the 2019 budget to help fight this disease.  In September, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) budget was increased by $425 million.  NIH invests more in health research than any other public enterprise in the world.  Congress seems fully committed to the fight to end Alzheimer’s and implement policies to improve access to critical care planning. Alzheimer’s disease has a greater impact on the US economy than cancer or heart disease, but until recently it had a smaller NIH research budget than either of these disorders. (It’s still smaller than the investment into cardiovascular disease research.)

The total annual budget for Alzheimer’s and dementia funding at NIH is $2.3 billion now.  This is up from $448 million in 2011 when the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) headed the effort to pass the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). The federal government has been responsive to the research community’s need for resources to address this disease.  They have made care planning services for those with cognitive impairments available through Medicare.  They have also tasked the Department of Health and Human Services with creating a plan to address the needs of the nation’s caregivers.

Because of this significant increase in NIH funding, researchers and scientists can work at a more rapid pace to advance basic disease knowledge.  They will be exploring deeper ways to reduce risk.  And they are working toward uncovering biomarkers for earlier diagnosis and drug targeting.  The ultimate goal is to one day develop a potential treatment to cure this overwhelming disease.

But the difficult news is that even despite this recent increase in money allocated to Alzheimer’s research, the budget will still fall short of the need.  With this governmental increase and along with the previous research investments, NIH will spend $1.9 billion in Alzheimer’s research in 2018.   But this means that for every $9,700 that Medicare and Medicaid spend caring for these patients, the NIH is only investing $100 in Alzheimer’s research.

Congressional action is still needed to stay on an aggressive path to discover scientific breakthroughs.  Funding needs to reflect the escalating national epidemic of the Alzheimer’s disease. It’s important that investments need to be made in research from the government, philanthropy, and private sector to alter the course of the underlying disease within a decade.  Alzheimer’s disease is increasing in frequency as the world’s population ages and poses a major threat to the public health.  Failing to make an investment could set efforts back an additional 10 to 20 years.

For More Information About Alzheimer’s Disease, contact the National Institute on Aging and the Referral (ADEAR) Center:

The National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Center offers information and free print publications about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for families, caregivers, and health professionals. ADEAR Center staff answer telephone, email, and written requests and make referrals to local and national resources.

1-800-438-4380 (toll-free)


To see how you can support Alzheimer’s research, contact the Alzheimer’s Association:

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.


For immediate care questions please contact your local Aegis Living community and ask to speak with the Health Services Director.

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