Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Costs of Alzheimer's and Dementia

"The Age of Alzheimer's" presents a compelling economic argument for why this disease should be attacked aggressively. The financial costs associated with this illness are staggering. With scientific advances, we are now able to keep our population alive much longer. Yet what we have failed to be able to do is to assure the quality of that life.

For so many of us baby boomers, we have parents who are living diminished lives. It is the vanishing world of those that suffer from Alzheimer or dementia that is so difficult to watch. My mother, who will soon turn 93, struggles daily to cope with the constant battle of losing her memory and her attachment to her surroundings. The loss of independence and the fight to maintain her dignity in a foreign universe, has taken a severe toll. The pain my mom feels in trying to hang on, is multiplied by all those who love her and look on helplessly.

Former Justice O'Connor is right that it is in our own best financial interests, in a time of soaring health costs, to aggressively search for a cure to this disease. But, even more important is that the quality of our days should be able to match the quantity of them.

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