1 in 7 people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia livesalone

5.4 million people living in the U.S. has Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and approximately 800,000 Americans are living alone, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The report, “2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” estimates that one in seven people with Alzheimer's or dementia lives alone, and that up to half of those people have no identifiable caregiver. Most are older women with milder impairment.

Additionally, as the baby boom generation ages, more people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will be living alone. The analysis finds that Alzheimer’s costs the country about $200 billion per year in Medicare, Medicaid, and personal out-of-pocket expenses. As enormous as that cost is, it takes 15.2 million unpaid caregivers, usually family members, to keep it from rising even higher.       

The personal impact on living alone with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or even mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can be dramatic compared to living with a caregiver. Patients who live alone have a much higher risk of wandering off, suffering bad falls, missing medication and doctor appointments, and exacerbating other medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Ultimately that’s not only harmful to those people, but it ratchets up costs, too.  

Advanced [legal] planning is critical for anybody with Alzheimer’s, but especially for those who live alone, states Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer’s Association. Legal and logistical considerations like advanced directives, power of attorney designations, and answers about who will be part of the care team must be addressed.

The Alzheimer’s Association has created an online social network called ALZ Connected, in an effort to provide support, especially for those who find it tough to get out for in-person group support meetings.

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