Alzheimer's a looming challenge for Idaho's safety net

Here's a draft of our Tuesday editorial:

Meet the support system for Idaho’s 26,000 Alzheimer’s patients.

They are, by and large, your neighbors.

Some 80 percent are women. The caregivers are themselves an aging cohort, with an average age of 59.
For family caregivers, this labor of love is physically and mentally exhausting labor. Fifty-five percent of caregivers devoted at least 40 hours a week to home care.

This portrait comes from a study completed in August by the Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group. It’s a window to what the future could hold — for tens of thousands of Idaho patients and their loved ones.

Because, even if Idaho does nothing to change the way it addresses Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, one thing will inevitably change.

The caseload.

The number of Idahoans suffering from dementia is expected to increase rapidly — by more than 60 percent in a mere 13 years. As the state’s population ages, the cost of care for dementia patients will only skyrocket.

Armed with its research, the Alzheimer’s planning group wants to convince the state to take the next step to address this looming challenge. The group wants Idaho to follow the example of 35 other states, and adopt a state Alzheimer’s plan.

This is an essential.

Not because 35 states have a plan.

But because it’s the right thing for Idaho Alzheimer’s patients — and especially the relatives who so often wind up caring for them. Too often, caregivers are on their own, balancing not only the rigors and demands of care but the complicated morass of Medicare and Medicaid rules.

Even in a state where people treasure their independence, caregivers shouldn’t have to take on this heartwrenching responsibility on their own.

To their credit, the state’s elected officials have acknowledged the need for a plan. The 2012 Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter endorsed a resolution supporting the planning group’s efforts — from gathering data about the needs of patients, families and caregivers to “recommending programs and strategies for addressing those needs.”

It’s a first step. It doesn’t commit any public funding, however — and that will be the tough step.

One way or another, we all will pay, and dearly.

When Alzheimer’s patients get care at home, by loved ones in Idaho and across the nation, the demands of the task and the economic costs both are hidden. (The out-of-pocket cost of care is already $33.8 billion a year nationally.) A state plan is the best way for state government to figure out how and where to best provide training, outreach and advocacy — to help those who help.

Houston

We have a problem.
Let the state pay for it.

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So what's the difference if
a) my taxes go up every year to pay for a care system for OTHER people's A.suffering parents and it is forever, or
b) my taxes don't go up and I incur the expense of caring for my parents (if on the chance they suffer A.) for the definite time they are afflicted.

***

Shall we also have a state care plan for arthritis? A state care plan for adults with Autism. A state care plan for everyone on rehab with a broken leg.

A nanny state plan!
***
Here is a better plan- take care of your own family.

Long term planning saves money

Pimp, what is your plan for elderly people suffering from Alzheimers who have no family to care for them? Should we leave them to roam the streets until they die? The bottom line is that we the taxpayers already do pay for people who are sick and uninsured. The 65+ population and this disease state are set to explode. Doesn't it make sense to have a proactive plan in place? That's the problem as I see it. As a conservative state, government isn't willing to spend a dime that it doesn't absolutely have to... so we're always in a reactive position. Take the issue of unintended pregnancy. Every $1 the state spends on prevention, saves $4 on the cost to treat. But do we invest in prevention? No. It's such a short sighted approach to only look at the current moment and never the future. I'm all about fiscal responsibility - but for me, that includes looking at the long-term implications and costs, not just saving a buck today. Talk about burdening future generations...

true

your overall point is true and hard to disagree with. However you have to get over the hurdle of what should the government be paying for? Whether its today's dollars or in the future.

No family? That becomes a small percentage of the population. The more likely case is the family moves away and becomes distracted with the busy lives and are unwilling to take care of grandpa.

And the second part is "if the state is willing to pay for Medicaid care for grandpa, why should I bother to use his money (my inheritance) or my current money?" That happens all the time with both D and R people.

Create it, and they will come -- to take advantage of it.

But what happens now? Medicare/Medicaid. Is that reactive? Not really, people put into the fund now and it goes out just as quickly. That is what will happen in 20 years from now too. Just a bigger percent of your paycheck in the future.