The Complexities of Alzheimer’s Disease with Psychosis

Alzheimer's Disease PsychosisEvery 66 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. More than five million Americans are living with it—more than 500,000 of them in Florida. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (and in Florida) and, since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 89 percent. It kills more than breast cancer and prostrate cancer combined.

Psychosis affects between 40 and 50 percent of people with Alzheimer’s at some point over the course of the disease. According to findings published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, about 36 percent of all Alzheimer’s patients have delusions and 18 percent have hallucinations. Regarding hallucinations, visual are more common than auditory, but they may occur in any of the senses. Delusions are typically related to themes of persecution—theft, harm, abandonment—or mis-identification—the house is not their home or there is someone else living in the house, for example. These symptoms may be intermittent or persistent and occur after the onset of the disease’s hallmark cognitive impairment.

Psychotic symptoms may also speed up the progression of the disease, and they add to the burden already heavy on caregivers and loved ones. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and 35 percent of these caregivers “report that their [own] health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities.” Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is difficult; with psychosis, the level of physical and emotional stress due to the amount of care involved is magnified.

Part of this stress may also be related to financial burden. Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s—whether at home or in a care facility—is expensive. According to the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, the average lifetime cost per Alzheimer’s patient is $174,000. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2017, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $259 billion, and by 2050, these costs could rise to $1.1 trillion.

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, only treatments for its symptoms. Alzheimer’s research studies help identify risk factors, determine which medications can be used for treatment and prevention, and lead to more accurate diagnoses. Research is critical to improving prevention and treatment, and eventually finding a cure. Participants for trials are urgently needed.

Meridien Research is conducting Alzheimer’s research studies at our Bradenton, Brooksville, Maitland, St. Petersburg, and Tampa locations. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 1-888-777-8839.