The National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leads the national scientific effort to understand the nature of aging in order to promote the health and well-being of older adults, whose numbers are projected to escalate in the coming years due to increased life expectancy and the aging of the baby boom generation. The number of people age 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050 to 88.5 million or 20 percent of the population; and those 85 and older will increase three-fold to 19 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Increased investment in preventing, treating or curing chronic diseases of the aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is perhaps the single most effective strategy in reducing national spending on healthcare. Chronic diseases associated with aging account for more than 75 percent of Medicare and other federal health expenditures.
Unprecedented increases in age-related diseases as the population ages are one reason the Congressional Budget Office projects that total spending on healthcare will rise to 25 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2025 from 17 percent today. Simply put, our nation does not have the luxury of time to address the health research
needs of this population.
In stark contrast to the rapidly-rising costs of healthcare for the aging, we as a nation are making a miniscule—and declining—investment in the prevention, treatment or cure of aging conditions. Out of each dollar appropriated to the NIH, only 3.6 cents goes toward supporting the work of the NIA. Today, the NIA’s percentage of the total NIH budget is at the lowest point since 1990…