For people with Alzheimer's Disease, this will cut costs and change lifestyles

The importance of early detection
Posted at 12:24 PM, Mar 22, 2018

New data shows Alzheimer's Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

In the last 15 years, it's grown more than 100 percent. It's projected to cost the nation billions in care costs.

But there's one thing that could cut those costs, and change how people live with this disease.

Married for 36 years, Rick and Traci Edmonson describe their time together like this.

"It's a whirlwind!" Rick said, and Traci agreed.

Some things, like kids and grandkids, they expected.

"Really definitely they are the joys of life," Traci said.

But some things, they didn't.

"It was terrifying in those small moments that was going on," Rick said. "And it was just scared me to death."

One day, about two years ago, Rick was driving and got lost.

"For him to get lost in a place that he knew and not be able to find his way back was a huge red flag," Traci said.

They went to a doctor, and just days before Christmas, at age 59, Rick was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease.

"We didn't know what the future would hold," Traci said. "It is just such a scary thing."

A new report out from the Alzheimer's Association shows the couple is not alone. More than 5.7 million people are currently living with the disease, and by 2050, that number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.

"You know I think it's important for the public to understand the epidemic that is at our front door right now," said Amelia Schafer with the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado.

Often, people are living with Alzheimer's and don't know it, Schafer said, and finding out can have big benefits. The report found early detection through annual doctor visits could save up to 15% percent of care costs.

"What we know is that early detection treating it earlier, potentially keeping someone in their home a little bit longer, can save hundreds of thousands for a family member over the lifetime," Schafer said.

For Rick, early detection and working with the Alzheimer's Association helped preserve his quality of life.

"I couldn't do the things I'd like to do and it's coming back," Rick said.

Now he's looking forward to the life he and Traci always imagined.

"I think more kids," he said. "More grandkids," Traci said.

Together they want to be aware and proactive, and enjoy the best of life's moments, for as long as possible.