Alzheimer’s caregivers know how financially crippling this disease can be for families. What they may not realize, however, is the heavy financial burden it is creating for the nation.

Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America, surpassing cancer and heart disease in Medicare and Medicaid spending. Caregiving resources, education and support also require funding. And as more baby boomers reach their 60s, expenses are expected to increase.

The Alzheimer’s Association is dedicated to raising awareness and lobbying Congress for federal dollars to expand programming and research. They are asking for help to raise awareness on Alzheimer’s Action Day, September 21.

What you need to know:

  • More than 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. The Alzheimer’s Association projects that another 28 million baby boomers will be diagnosed with the disease by 2050.
  • An estimated 180,000 people in the Great Lakes State live with Alzheimer’s By 2050, experts believe that number will climb to 190,000.
  • About 450,000 seniors will die from the disease this year. That is one in three adults over the age of 65.
  • In 2015, the United States will spend $226 billion on Alzheimer’s and dementia care. That number will skyrocket to $1.2 trillion in the next 35 years.
  • Alzheimer’s is currently incurable and there is no treatment that prevents the horrific effects of the disease.
  • The National Institutes of Health was granted $586 million for Alzheimer’s research in 2015. An additional $52 million is proposed for the for fiscal year 2016 The Alzheimer’s Association says that research is still too low when compared to funding for other disease research.


How you can help on Alzheimer’s Action Day:

  • Wear purple all day. This is the official color representing Alzheimer’s awareness.
  • Encourage others to wear purple. Organize a “purple day” in your workplace or your child’s school.
  • Spread the word in social media. Educate others by posting facts about Alzheimer’s throughout the day on Facebook and Twitter. Add a purple filter to photos you post on Instagram.
  • Raise money and awareness. Sell purple carnations or forget-me-nots and donate the money to the Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association or to a dementia care facility.
  • Contact elected officials. Congress has added $147 million to Alzheimer’s research budgets since 2013, but the Alzheimer’s Association says much more is necessary to prevent and cure this devastating illness. Email Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and ask them to increase funding for Alzheimer’s treatment and research. Contact your Congressional district representative and do the same. Remind them that 170,000 Michigan residents over 65 have Alzheimer’s. By the year 2050, the number is expected to climb to 220,000.

How you can help every day

  • Participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. These fundraising walks are scheduled in Chelsea, Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Saginaw and Traverse City in September and October.
  • Volunteer as a Public Policy Advocate or Ambassador with The Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Volunteers are needed to send regular emails and letters or make phone calls to elected officials. They also might share family stories with members of Congress.

Alzheimer’s caregivers often feel powerless against this cruel disease. Raising awareness and funds to eliminate the illness is one way you can fight back and feel empowered.