Can Non-pharmaceutical Interventions in Alzheimer’s Stave Off the Related Economic Crisis?

The past year has entailed such a sweeping amount of change that it’s almost impossible to predict how care for older adults, aging in general and our cultural values will evolve as a result of the collective trauma experienced.

I’d like to believe that we can learn from the experience of the past, for instance, by appreciating the value of taking timely action during a pandemic. We’re all acutely aware, and have watched in horror, as the pandemic grew in the United States and action was delayed or altogether abandoned. The result was that hundreds of thousands of deaths occurred, and secondary to this loss of life was the overwhelming of the U.S. healthcare and hospital system.

I’d like to apply this same warning to our Alzheimer’s population, which is expected to triple in the next 15 to 20 years, with a corresponding increase in the number of deaths. The somber prediction is that mid- to late-stage dementia patients will overwhelm and bankrupt the Medicare and Medicaid system and simultaneously overrun the U.S. hospital system with end-of-life needs, much in the same way we’ve recently witnessed with Covid 19.

What if we could change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease and intervene at the early- to mid-stage of this disease, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives? And relieve the strain on our hospital and economic systems at the same time?

In an April 15 session at the On Aging 2021 Conference, I will address this topic (see the sidebar to the right for details).

I’ll be joined in the presentation by Leonard Wisneski, MD, FACP, who is grounded in the practical aspects of healthcare and economic policy, in addition to being a foundational member of the integrative medicine and health policy fields.

‘Healthcare policy can support therapies that can be cost effective, humane and life-supporting.’

He will address the economics of Alzheimer’s, the foundations of integrative medicine and talk about how healthcare policy can support therapies that can be cost effective, humane and life-supporting for the older adult client, while benefiting the elder care community as well.

Dr. Wisneski is a clinical professor of Medicine at George Washington University Medical Center and chairman of the board of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium, which promotes national legislation pertaining to integrative healthcare. He has practiced endocrinology and integrative medicine for more than 30 years.

Following Dr Wisneski will be Gail Wetzler, PT, DPT, EDO, BI-D, director of Curriculum for the Barral Institute, and a pioneer of research in manual-based therapies to treat concussions and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Wetzler will address the most recent research in such manual therapy applications and how integrative medicine, visceral manipulation and craniosacral therapy provide promising noninvasive alternatives that can be applied to the growing population of older adults who have dementia.

This session’s intention is to provide a vision of a new approach to treating Alzheimer’s and other dementias and how it might affect elder care, in a practical step-by-step manner, including an economic blueprint to achieve our goals.

Michael Morgan LMT, CST-D, has been a practitioner of craniosacral therapy since 1991, and has been an instructor for the Upledger Institute since 1998, in Fairfield, Iowa.