Baby boomers who grooved to The Who and their declaration that they hoped they died before they got old are now, indeed, getting old and bumping against the reality that their memories and ability to care for themselves could be ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease.
Some estimates have it that by 2050, the number of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s in the United States will triple, reaching 13.8 million. This will not only directly affect families grappling with the long, slow fade of their loved ones, but also have broader policy implications, since patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia consume more health care dollars than their counterparts dealing with other types of illnesses.
In a recognition of the tidal wave that’s about to strike us, Gov. Tom Corbett and his administration are forming a state planning committee that would offer recommendations and help craft policies related to the care of those with Alzheimer’s. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the committee will consist of, among others, representatives from long-term care providers, research institutions, an Alzheimer’s patient and a caregiver.
Twenty-eight other states have similar committees. With its large contingent of elderly residents, Pennsylvania’s creation of one is well overdue.