Healthy People 2020 sets out the national health goals as established by the government. One of these goals is the reduction in mortality and morbidity associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It also seeks to reduce the costs associated with these conditions. Furthermore, the goals focus on how to improve the quality of life associated with them. Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive functioning to the extent that it interferes with daily living. It is a symptom, rather than a disease. Dementia is symptomatic of another condition, such as AD. AD is actually the leading cause of dementia in the world (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014). AD is a progressive condition in which cognitive faculties are lost by the individual. It can only be definitively diagnosed with an autopsy. However, a history and physical examination of a patient can clearly give a probable diagnosis of the condition. The purpose of this paper is to examine the severity and prevalence of the condition, as well as to discuss the research surrounding its increase in incidence and prevalence.
Dementia and AD were not included in the Healthy People 2010 goals. Therefore, there are no baseline data from this program (Healthy People, 2014). All of the data that will be discussed therefore must come from other sources. There are multiple reasons why it was added to the Healthy People 2020 goals. AD is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It also results in a significant economic burden to the country. The 2014 cost estimates for the condition is $214 billion. This does not include the indirect costs associated with it either. The costs are so high because many individuals require long-term care since they are unable to care for themselves anymore.
As already stated, this was not one of the goals discussed in Healthy People 2010. Therefore, the data with regards to national progress in this condition and the prevalence rates. Currently, approximately 5.2 million Americans suffer from AD. AD and related conditions result in the death of approximately 500,000 Americans annually (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014).
The mortality associated with AD has actually increased significantly in recent years; many other diseases saw a decrease in associated mortality. Between 2000 and 2008, the mortality associated with AD increased 66% (Thies & Bleiler, 2011, p. 208). Furthermore, the incidence of the disease is expected to increase dramatically. Currently, a person is diagnosed with the condition every 67 seconds. By 2050, this will increase to a person being diagnosed with the condition every 33 seconds (Alzheimer’s Association, 2012). While there were not official goals established by the United States government with regards to this condition, it is apparent that the disease statistics are not improving. Rather, the incidence and prevalence of the condition continues to escalate.
There are a number of strategies that can be used to assist in the goal of reducing the costs associated with the condition and improving the quality of life for those with the condition. Firstly, prevention is crucial. Prevention can be accomplished with ensuring that individuals receive a balanced diet, including a proper level of vitamins and minerals. Deficiencies in these conditions have been considered one possible cause. An increase in fruits and vegetables can help this for many persons. Furthermore, the costs may be reduced by developing more adult day care programs in communities. This would allow individuals to remain living with family members, rather than long term care. Many individuals end up in long term care because there is no one at home during the day due to work schedules.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in the U.S. This includes a tremendous economic burden to the country. This may be reduced by nutritional prevention and by providing assistance caring for individuals during the day. This was a new goal in the Healthy People 2020.