Recently, Hall of Famer and longtime Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 64 years old. Alzheimer's is perhaps the most common form of dementia, and a major chronic condition faced by many older adults. In fact, nearly 95% of Medicare beneficiaries with dementia have at least one other chronic health condition. Alzheimer’s disease being the most prominent. Alzheimer’s disease usually occurs in individuals who are 60 years old and older. Starting at age 65, the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years. By age 85 years and older, between 25% and 50% of people will exhibit signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a potentially debilitating disease that requires coordinated care that addresses the medical, behavioral, and social care needs of the patient. Memory loss is the first symptom in the early stages. Followed by impaired judgment, and decreased reasoning which exacerbates functional decline and one’s ability to manage their own care. Hospital, home health, and skilled nursing facility costs and acute health episodes are higher for beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s.