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Alzheimer's scourge hangs over ill-prepared Asia (part 2)

Posted Jul 04 2010 12:00am
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Reuters

ONE FOR EVERY FAMILY

About 10 percent of those in their 70s can expect to have dementia, and 30 percent of those in their 80s.

"Everyone will experience this, every family. It is now common to live to your 80s," said Peter Yuen, director of the Public Policy Research Institute at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

In the United States, the annual amount spent by the government, private insurance and individuals to care for people with AD, is projected to jump more than six-fold to $1.08 trillion by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

The costs are just as substantial elsewhere.

Yuen, whose mother has Alzheimer's, told a recent AD symposium in Hong Kong that four years of daycare and two years of residential care in a general nursing home in Hong Kong would cost HK$540,000 (US$69,000) per patient.

But even that is an underestimate for 82-year-old Aw Bek-sum, whose children have had to fork out HK$15,000 (US$1,920) each month to take care of her since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago. The sum covers daycare, visits to the doctor, a domestic helper and household expenses.

"It's devastating for families with AD patients. There is just not enough support," Yuen said

He proposes long-term financing or some form of pooled insurance for patients who are chronically ill so that services will be made available once the ability to pay is assured.

more next time

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