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Gates Joins Fight Against Alzheimer's
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Microsoft founder invests $50 million to aid in research 

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Bill Gates
photo by Aaron Dulley

Bill Gates has committed a total of $50 million to accelerate research to help tackle Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Gates made the personal investment to the Dementia Discovery Fund. The fund is “a close collaboration between charity, industry and the government, to provide much-needed investment in innovative dementia research.”

In making the announcement, Gates wrote on his blog “Gates Notes,” he became interested in Alzheimer’s disease because of the costs.

“A person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia spends five times more every year out-of-pocket on healthcare than a senior without a neuro-degenerative condition. Unlike those with many chronic diseases, people with Alzheimer’s incur long-term care costs as well as direct medical expenses. If you get the disease in your 60s or 70s, you might require expensive care for decades.

These costs represent one of the fastest growing burdens on healthcare systems in developed countries. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Americans will spend $259 billion caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in 2017. Absent a major breakthrough, expenditures will continue to squeeze healthcare budgets in the years and decades to come. This is something that governments all over the world need to be thinking about, including in low and middle income countries where life expectancies are catching up to the global average and the number of people with dementia is on the rise.”

Gates said he believes the course of Alzheimer’s disease can be substantially altered if progress is made in five areas:

Gates said now is the time to “accelerate progress before major costs hit countries that cannot afford high priced therapies and where exposure to the kind of budget implications of an Alzheimer’s epidemic could bankrupt health systems.”