Nearly 300 people attended the 11th International Bioethics Conference, presented by The St. Francis International Center for Healthcare Ethics, on April 29, 2016 filling the Pomaika`i Ballroom at Dole Cannery.
The topic, “Dementia A Population Health Challenge: Rising Rates, Emerging Ethics,” provided timely, relevant information. S. Y. Tan, MD, JD, Director of The St. Francis International Center for Healthcare Ethics and Emeritus Professor for the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, started off the conference by sharing sobering data:
- An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, with many more who are undiagnosed;
- About 200,000 of these are younger than 65 years old;
- Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease;
- One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia;
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined;
- It is the most expensive condition in the nation, costing $214 billion per year;
- Eventually the disease will cost the U.S. economy $1.1 trillion and the portion covered by Medicare will climb to $589 billion;
- The number of people with Alzheimer’s will rise to 16 million by 2050; and
- $1 billion a year is allocated for Alzheimer’s research, far less than the $5 billion spent on cancer research or $3 billion on HIV/AIDS research
The cost associated with dementia care is tremendous. The major component in the cost for dementia care are institutional and home-based long term care; not the costs of medical services. This makes dementia one of the most costly diseases today, and most of these expenses are not covered by health insurance. This puts a financial burden on families to care for the patient.
There is a tremendous emotional toll on family caregivers as a result of dementia.
- In 2014, Hawaii had 25,000 people over 65 diagnosed with dementia;
- About 70 percent of dementia care is provided in the home by unpaid caregivers;
- In 2013, there were 64,000 documented self-identified dementia family caregivers in Hawaii, delivering 73 million hours of unpaid care, at a total value of $910 million.
Dr. Tan’s presentation set the tone for a day-long series of discussions on the ethical issues of dementia care, including panel discussions on hypothetical situations in the morning and afternoon that generated more discussion and comments. In addition to local subject-matter experts, there were speakers from Singapore to offer different perspectives on the topic.
A panel discussion involving an 80-year-old with severe dementia who is in need of a pacemaker and hemodialysis included from left, Elizabeth Tam, MD; Hilton Raethel, MMA, MPH of HMSA; Han Yee Neo, MBBS, MRCP, MMED, from Singapore; and Ramona Wong, MD.
Mahalo to the Generous Supporters
A number of generous supporters made the conference possible: Chaminade University of Honolulu; Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc.; Wen-Yu Lee, MD; Legacy of Life Hawaii; Ohana Pacific Management Company, Inc.; St. Francis Healthcare Foundation; Gary and Akemi Simon; the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities of Hawaii; STAT Medical; The Queen’s Medical Center; and UHA.
In addition to the speakers, there were exhibitors from the Alzheimer’s Association – Aloha Chapter; Captain Cook Coin Company of Honolulu; Chaminade University of Honolulu; Hale Hau`oil Adult Day Care; Hale Ku`ike; Ohana Pacific Management Company, Inc.; The Plaza Assisted Living; St. Francis Healthcare System; and The Caregiver Foundation.