Pat Loughney (right) cared for his wife, Candy, in their home until she went into anaphylactic shock after eating medicated soap. Candy is one of 280,000 Pennsylvanians over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia.
Colin Deppen is a newsletter editor/reporter with Spotlight PA. He crafts and grows the site’s daily and weekly newsletters, while contributing to the organization’s mission of producing journalism that serves readers and holds powerful people to account. He came to Spotlight PA from The Incline, a digital news outlet in Pittsburgh, where he served as director and author of a daily newsletter hyper-focused on the city and region. Colin has worked at newspapers and outlets across Pennsylvania during his 10-year career — from the Northern Tier to the south. This includes PennLive/The Patriot-News, where he won statewide awards for written features, personality profiles, and political coverage. He is a native of New York City with deep family ties in Pennsylvania and has been a longtime resident of the commonwealth. He still refuses to try scrapple.
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Pennsylvania is headed for a profound eldercare crisis, experts warn, as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia rates continue to climb, the state’s readiness plan continues to falter, and the exorbitant costs of care pressure state budgets and family budgets alike.
Spotlight PA and PublicSource looked at the remarkably high stakes in Pennsylvania, home to one of the nation’s oldest populations, and found a slew of statistics demonstrating both the urgency of the problem, the glacial pace of the response, and the dollar amounts behind a “public health crisis with a looming financial crisis on top.”
Here are the figures that stand out:
Seven: The number of years since a state-commissioned plan outlined action items to prepare for and respond to Pennsylvania’s growing dementia crisis
Eight: The number of action items (out of nine chosen) still unfinished or not yet started
1,500: The number of board-certified geriatric psychiatrists nationwide
6 million: The number of Alzheimer’s patients nationwide
13 million: The projected number of Alzheimer’s patients nationwide by 2050
320,000: The projected number of Alzheimer’s cases in Pennsylvania by 2025
61,760: The number of those cases that are likely to be severe, based on NIH-funded research, and more likely to require full-time, dementia-specific services at an eldercare facility
17,157: The current capacity for full-time, dementia-specific services inside Pennsylvania’s state-licensed eldercare facilities
21,290: The increase in the number of Pennsylvania Medicaid and Medicare recipients with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder seen between 2015 and 2020
$50: The amount Pennsylvania’s Medicaid reimbursement — a primary payer of dementia care services in nursing homes — falls short per resident, per day, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents for-profit facilities
4,564: The number of people who received reimbursements from Pennsylvania’s Caregiver Support Program in 2020
500,000: The estimated number of unpaid family caregivers statewide
$58,692: The average annual cost of memory care for an individual in Pennsylvania
$34,352: Average annual income per individual in Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Census Bureau
$3.7 billion: The amount spent annually through Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program for Alzheimer’s care, according to the Alzheimer’s Association
$10 billion: The value of unpaid care provided annually by Pennsylvanians to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which advocates say demonstrates a far greater need for state-supported services