About 14 million baby boomers, or 18%, likely will develop Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia, a development that could cost the U.S. health care system as much as $160 billion by 2010, according to a report released Monday by the Alzheimer's Association, USA Today reports.

According to the "2008 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures," without a cure, the U.S. will have about 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer's in 2010 and almost one million new cases by the middle of the century. In 2005, Medicare spent $91 billion on treatments for Alzheimer's and other dementia, and the program likely will spend $160 billion on such treatments by 2010 and $189 billion by 2015, the report found. According to the report, 70% of Alzheimer's and other dementia patients lived at home, where friends and family members provided care. Almost 10 million U.S. residents ages 18 and older provided about $89 billion in 8.4 billion hours of unpaid care to Alzheimer's patients in 2007, the report said.

Researchers said that treatments with the ability to delay the onset of Alzheimer's could save Medicare billions of dollars. Stephen McConnell, vice president of public policy for the association, said, "We don't need to cure this disease," adding, "If we could just make a dent in it, the savings would be huge" (Fackelmann, USA Today, 3/18).

The report is available online (.pdf).

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