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Dementia spending priorities: care or cure?

August 4, 2015
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Since 2012, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) has poured millions into Alzheimer’s disease research, but many people think more financial investments are needed closer to home, according to a new study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

The nationwide study, which surveyed more than 700 caregivers and people living with dementia, asked respondents to prioritize 11 categories of spending. The resulting top priorities were:

  1. Financial resources for respite care and short-term caregiving support­—care that typically lasts less than a week and is used to relieve family and daily care providers
  2. Financial resources for long-term care support and aging in place, which includes assistance with nursing home and assisted living expenses
  3. Research for a cure and better medication
  4. Education and training for families, health professionals and volunteers
  5. Advocacy and awareness to reduce the stigma of dementia

In 2014, NAPA spent more than $100 million on research toward a cure, while spending $10 million on care services, supports and education. The focus on the disease rather than the patient seems at odds with the national movement toward person-centered care, especially considering the significant challenges that caring for someone with dementia can place on the family.

"We have 10 times more money going toward research instead of supporting the people who are living with dementia,” said Davina Porock, PhD, professor in the University at Buffalo School of Nursing and lead researcher in the study, in a university news release. “Research is still high on the agenda, but they think that support is more important."