This is how much the US is spending on Alzheimer's

A resident holds the hand of a nurse at the SenVital elderly home in Kleinmachnow outside Berlin May 28, 2013. Facing an acute shortage of skilled applicants among its own workforce, German institutions in the care sector increasingly turn to southern European countries to hire trained nursing staff who are willing to work abroad despite the language barrier in order to escape unemployment at home. The SenVital home for the elderly outside Berlin has accepted five qualified nurses from Spain as their staff, providing eight months of language training and additional care schooling needed to attain the German nursing concession.  Some 100 Spaniards applied for the ten vacancies SenVital had advertised across its various houses.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter (GERMANY  - Tags: HEALTH BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT) - RTX103ZD

A new report from the Alzheimer's Association examines how much the US is spending on treating the disease. Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Lydia Ramsey
Editorial Intern, Business Insider Science
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Alzheimer's disease is the only one of the top leading causes of death whose progression can't be slowed down or stopped.

The neurodegenerative disease affects about 5.5 million Americans, a number that's expected to balloon to 13.8 million by 2050.

And the amount spent caring for people with Alzheimer's is expected to reach $259 billion in 2017, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association.

"Everybody with a brain at risk and needs to care about this," Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association told Business Insider.

The search for a treatment to Alzheimer's hasn't been going well. There are only four approved drugs that treat symptoms of the disease, and several hopeful treatments have failed key studies over the last few months.

So while death rates for illnesses such as HIV and heart disease have dropped over the past 14 years, the Alzheimer's Association noted, Alzheimer's deaths are up 89% over that period.

Image: Alzheimer's Association

Still, more drugs are in late-stage trials that could have an impact on the disease, and researchers are pinning hopes on diagnosing the disease early, before symptoms even show up. If any of those treatments pan out, it could change the way we look at the disease and potentially make these statistics a lot less dire.

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