In the Media: America Can No Longer Afford to Ignore the Numbers

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In the Media

This month PBS will air the documentary “Every Minute Counts” on January 25 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. The one-hour program will discuss the cost associated with dementia and the social implications which are called a “national threat” as a wake-up call to all.

The program will also interview staff that mans the helpline and interview Matthew Baumgart, senior director of Public Policy.

Watch the trailer from the PBS documentary

I find it encouraging that major news outlets and public television are covering this issue more and more. Getting help for those who suffer, both the patients and their caregivers is long overdue. Everyone has to be proactive in speaking out on how this impacts families across the world.

Even social media has done a great deal to explore the problems associated with dementia. This week my news feed had an article on a memory care community in Denmark that created a whole town for their residents, so they could roam at will and still be safe. The “town” had restaurants, theaters, hair salons and healthcare facilities with staff making sure each resident stayed safe. Residents have no need to carry money or cards for payments to each place. All costs are included in this government run community.

The administration said having a safe community where their residents can stay active keeps them healthier longer and does a great deal for their quality of life.

Strides in Diagnosis by Medicare

According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, over 5 million Americans are living with the disease and the costs for that care are astounding. Last year (2016), the cost was estimated at $236 billion. If the number of suffering elders was not enough to get the lawmakers’ attention, the cost of care now is.

Currently, Medicare will reimburse physicians who take the time to test patients for Alzheimer’s and document findings with a detailed care plan for each patient. According to, many doctors have already diagnosed more than half the people with dementia, but fail to inform the patient or family because of costly time restraints to recommend both medical and living care plans.

Starting this month, doctors can be compensated for the time it takes to discuss care options with their patients. I encourage family members to go with your parents on doctor visits and be prepared to ask questions of the doctor. I’ve been going to my parents’ appointments for years and I don’t hesitate to ask everything I can think of.

Standing Up and Working Together is a wonderful resource and has links on its e-mail newsletters on what’s happening in your own community. If you are a caregiver, these resources can be invaluable. Don’t try to do it alone. Get the help that you need.There is power in numbers. Step up and be counted. We must stand together or perhaps it will be to our own peril.

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Photo Credit: Still shot from the preview of the PBS documentary Every Minute Counts.

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