Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

John J. Pitney, Jr.

Rights Information

© 2015 Madeiene E. Davidson


Many Americans know Alzheimer’s disease for its devastating physical, emotional, and financial impact on patients as well as their family members and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s recent national survey, 73 million voters have had a family member or friend with the disease, indicating that the nation is aware of the disease’s affect on patients, their relatives, friends, and caretakers.

Many are unaware, however, that Alzheimer’s could impose an enormous economic burden on the nation. Harry Johns, the president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, calls Alzheimer’s “a triple threat unlike any other disease with its soaring prevalence, lack of treatment and enormous cost.” Nearly 5.3 million Americans are currently diagnosed with this untreatable disease. As the elderly continue to age, the demand for government aid in the form of Medicare and Medicaid will increase. This increasing demand, along with the decline in the labor force participation rate, will increase costs to all those affected by Alzheimer’s in the coming decades.

The federal government has assumed leadership in the fight against Alzheimer’s by passing legislation to secure funding and establish a timeline for research, engage stakeholders, and provide support for Alzheimer’s patients, families, and caregivers. This thesis offers a holistic view of the current challenges facing the Alzheimer’s community, including costs of the disease to patients, families, and to society. It also includes an overview of Alzheimer’s legislation that addresses these challenges and provides a budget for scientific research for a treatment or a cure in the next decade to prevent the impending national fiscal catastrophe. This thesis will provide recommendations for how policy makers can decrease the likelihood that the federal government will be forced to pay the projected cumulative $20 trillion total cost of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by 2050. This thesis also recommends ways to provide immediate support the growing number of caregivers to Alzheimer’s patients.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.