Minnesota has 98,000 reasons to support the nation's new Alzheimer's Plan. Those are the number of people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease according to the Alzheimer's Association of Minnesota and North Dakota.
"The diagnosis is hell, and death is the only relief," said Interim Executive Director Bob Karrick.
His analysis is a stark reminder of the fact that of the nation's leading diseases, Alzheimer's is the only one for which there is no known prevention, treatment, or cure.
That's why Alzheimer's advocates are applauding the formation of a National Alzheimer's Plan. Congress called for the creation of the plan with the enactment of the National Alzheimer's Project Act. President Obama signed it into law in January of 2011. More than a year later the Administration with National Institutes of Health have formulated the plan to treat and coordinate research.
The most ambitious goal of the plan is to prevent and treat Alzheimer's by 2025. Additionally, the plan calls for improved quality of care and expanded support of Alzheimer's patients and their families.
Minnesota formed its own Alzheimer's plan two years ago. But Karrick says the new National Plan should be welcome news to families affected by Alzheimer's.
"It should start to give you some comfort by the fact that what you're going through, future generations will avoid going through," said Karrick.
Minnesota serves as a window to the scope of the national crisis posed by Alzheimer's and dementia. As of 2010, there were roughly 43,300 people living in Minnesota nursing homes with some form of cognitive impairment. The total number of Minnesotan's diagnosed with Alzheimer's is expected to grow 25 percent by 2025 according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Caring for people with dementia will cost $200 billion this year alone. Karrick fears that if nothing is done, the healthcare costs could ruin state finances.
"It will be a tremendous burden to the state of Minnesota as costs go up and as the occurrence of the disease of the disease goes up, it has the potential to bankrupt the state of Minnesota," said Karrick.
One promising discovery is the use of an insulin based nasal spray. In observational studies researchers have found that the sprays help improve memory in Alzheimer's patients. They believe the insulin absorbed by the brain through the nasal cavity helps brain cells better absorb glucose to help it function at a higher level. Part of the new National Plan will fund more research on this discovery.
For more information on Alzheimer's, the Alzheimer's Association has a 24-hour hotline at 800 272-3900.