Big increase in dementia patients expected in San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO — Two studies released Friday indicate San Diego County will see increasingly devastating health and economic effects from dementia- related diseases in coming years.

The number of county residents age 55 and older with dementia is expected to increase 35 percent from 84,000 Friday to 115,000 by 2030, according to The Alzheimer’s Project, a regional initiative that includes political leadership, research institutions, public universities, health care systems and caregiver groups.

“This group of diseases, their effects, and the care needed for those suffering from them has a significant effect on the local economic burden, but also on the financial burden faced by patients and their families,” said county Health and Human Services Agency officials in one of the reports, titled The Economic Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in San Diego County.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, which is an umbrella term signifying a decline in mental ability. Vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia, typically affects stroke patients.

The number of family members and caregivers needed for dementia patients is expected to grow even faster from 214,000 people to nearly 300,000, or 40 percent. Meanwhile, the current cost of dementia care in the county, $38 billion, is expected to grow by $52 billion by 2030.

Annual costs associated with an individual with dementia are estimated to be more than $64,000; that figure includes medical costs as well as loss of income and productive activity.

In 2015, about one in seven San Diego County hospital patients age 55 or older showed signs of dementia.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors launched The Alzheimer’s Project in 2014 to mitigate the growing effects of dementia. The coalition is focused on improving the county’s network of care services and raising awareness and funds for an Alzheimer’s cure.

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