We laughed. Hey, I like a good joke.
The vacation is over, and Costa Rica seems more and more distant in the rear view mirror. As I returned to my regular reads, it turns out that two of my favorite publications had something significant to offer me about Alzheimer's.
This article (sub. reqd.) in the New Yorker notes:
In the United States alone, roughly five million people suffer from Alzheimer’s, a figure that is expected to more than double by 2050. The annual cost to the nation for treating the disease may then approach a trillion dollars; the cost in suffering is incalculable.Way back, when I was barely thirty years old, I decided that I ought to make clear to wife and daughter my preferences for medical treatment. I didn't want any big time life supporting machines to be hooked up to me. Donate my body to a medical school. At a dinner table conversation, I told the attorney friend that my greatest worry was that I would end up with dementia. With Alzheimer's.
Yet three decades of Alzheimer’s research has done little to change the course of the disease.
Dennis laughed. "Alzheimer's won't be your problem at all, but somebody else's." And he looked at my daughter.
As one who loves living the life of the mind, and with thinking as my profession and hobby, I shudder to think that I could lose it and then be in a state of being around without actually being around. I have been waiting for some kind of a development that would nuke Alzheimer's before it actually begins. A preemptive strike. It is all the more important for societies all across the world to understand, and not merely because Sriram is worried about it, because of our longer and longer lifespans.
Current surveys show that, of the population over eighty-five, roughly a third of people worldwide have Alzheimer's. ... "If we lived long enough, would we all become demented, with plaques and tangles? Is Alzheimer's just another name for aging?"Doesn't take much to imagine the complexity involved. Taking care of an Alzheimer's patient is no easy task for a caregiver. If one decides to outsource this care-giving, the expense quickly adds up.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that caring for an Alzheimer's patient costs forty-one thousand to fifty-six thousand dollars a year.This piece in the Economist, also on Alzheimer's, puts the cost figures thus:
In America in 2010, the cost of treating those with dementia was $109 billion. That exceeds the cost of treating those with heart disease or with cancer. The RAND Corporation, a Californian think-tank, reckons this cost will more than double by 2040.That comes across as a low estimate, compared with what the New Yorker suggests: "more than a trillion dollars a year by 2050."
Let's hope that the drugs that are in the trial stages will work out.
Here is to hoping that my constant worries will help in preemptive strikes against those crazy proteins that trigger the Alzheimer's. If not, my daughter needs to be warned that Oregon's Death with Dignity won't extend to Alzheimer's patients--how can it when they cannot rationally think and decide for themselves!