Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts, premiering January 25, 2017, at 10pm ET on PBS, is an urgent wake-up call about the national threat posed by Alzheimer’s disease. Many know the unique tragedy of this disease, but few know that Alzheimer’s is also a major and rapidly growing public health crisis. The project’s centerpiece is a high-profile national PBS documentary that powerfully illuminates the social consequences for America unless a medical breakthrough is discovered for this currently incurable disease.
There are now five million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the growing number of aging baby boomers, and the fact that the onset of Alzheimer’s is primarily age-related, the number of those with Alzheimer’s is expected to rise 70% by 2030. And by 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that number will explode to 15 million, including half of Americans over 85, unless prevention or a cure is found.
This “tsunami” of Alzheimer’s cases will not only be a profound human tragedy for the country, but an economic one as well. Due to the length of time people live with the illness and need care, it’s the most expensive medical condition in the nation. Without a medical breakthrough, future costs for Alzheimer’s threaten to put in jeopardy Medicare, Medicaid and the life savings of millions of Americans. It’s estimated that when the number of patients triples in the years ahead, the budget to address Alzheimer’s will exceed that of the Defense Department.
Few people are aware of any of this. The purpose of Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts is to change that. With power and passion, the one-hour documentary weaves together the sobering statistics about Alzheimer’s; expert commentary delineating the societal consequences if we don’t have a medical breakthrough; and compelling stories filmed around the country in places where Alzheimer’s is growing rapidly – places where we see previews of the future happening today.
The documentary will be accompanied by community engagement, education, and social media initiatives that will extend its reach and impact far beyond broadcast – to educate the public about the crisis as well as provide on-the-ground support to help those who already have Alzheimer’s.