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Rate of Alzheimer’s in Utahns expected to rise dramatically by 2025

SALT LAKE CITY — Experts predict a huge increase in Utahns diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over the next few years, and warn the burden will mostly fall on taxpayers.

As of 2017, about 30 thousand Utahns have been diagnosed with the disease. Ronnie Daniel, the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s of Utah chapter, said they expect far more in the coming years as the massive baby-boomer generation gets older, citing age as the biggest predictor of the disease. In fact, Daniel said they expect one-in-eight baby-boomers will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by the time they turn 65, and one-in-three will be diagnosed by the time they turn 85.

“We’re expecting to see a forty percent increase over the next eight years, by 2025,” Daniel said, adding that with the disease come huge costs covered by the tax-funded Medicaid.

By 2025 he says Medicaid will need a 57 percent increase in funding. “So about a million dollar increase in the cost of

“So about a million dollar increase in the cost of Medicaid alone,” Daniel said. “The biggest factor to that cost increase is many people will need more long-term care. They end up with more hospitalizations.”

The chapter has been meeting with lawmakers over the last two years to prepare them for the cost increase, but Daniel said many of those costs can be decreased if Medicaid is adjusted to include funding for at-home care.

“If we can keep people in home longer, then those costs can be controlled a little bit easier… If Medicaid would allow for in-home health care coverage then that could stay home longer because there would be a home nurse that would provide support a spouse can no longer provide,” Daniel said.

Daniel said they are still working with the legislature to expand Medicaid to include at-home care, a program that he says would cost about a quarter of the cost of long-term care in a facility.