ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- There may not be enough doctors or caregivers to take care of the estimated 410,000 New Yorkers living with Alzheimer’s Disease in the future. An additional 44% more geriatricians will be needed based on the number of practicians in 2021, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA) 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report.
There were 568 practicing geriatricians in New York in 2021, by 2050 New York will need approximately 818. The need for direct-care workers like nurses and nurse’s aids is also expected to grow by 40%. However, their availability is expected to decline.
The need for home health and personal care aides for those with Alzheimer’s will be the greatest. That workforce will need to grow by 68% in New York by 2028 with Alzheimer’s patients in the state’s rural areas may have a more difficult time finding providers or caregivers.
Alzheimer’s produces numerous symptoms that make it difficult for people with the disease to take care of themselves such as trouble remembering things, confusion, personality changes, and difficulty problem-solving. People with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years once symptoms become noticeable, according to the New York State Department of Health (DOH).
Alzheimer’s starts 20 or more years before symptoms manifest, based on new research. It’s why early treatment is paramount and will be impeded by a lack of doctors, direct and personal care workers, the AA said. “The shortage of specialists is a barrier to a timely and accurate diagnosis, and a lack of diagnosis means a delay in treatments, care delivery, and supportive services.”
The DOH has a list of Alzheimer’s specialists where New Yorkers can search by county to find a doctor or care center. But the only options for residents in rural areas like Fulton and Columbia County is to travel to the Albany area because that’s where the specialists are.
The AA estimates 563,000 family caregivers shoulder a large portion of caring for family members with Alzheimer’s in New York. It’s equal to approximately 835 million hours of unpaid care or $16 billion.