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Cost of dementia care exceeds U.S. cancer costs

April 17, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Senior Editor
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Costs for dementia care ranged between $159 billion and $215 billion in 2010, and could exceed $380 billion by 2040, according to a study published in the April issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Care costs broke down to $41,689 to $56,290 per person, depending on how caregiver costs were caluclated, noted Michael D. Hurd, PhD, of RAND in Santa Monica, Calif. Medicare paid about $11 billion for dementia care in 2010, which the RAND study authors estimated involved only 14.7 percent of people over 70.

The national market economic burden of dementia care—about $109 billion in 2010—now matches the impact of heart disease and far exceeds cancer, the study authors said. Yet the Alzheimer’s Association has reported even higher 2010 expenditures, approaching $172 billion.  

But, calculating the actual financial impact of dementia care is complex, since those with dementia also often have other chronic conditions and often receive informal caregiving. “The unpaid care provided by family and friends, in the form of assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), is an important component of the support required by those with dementia,yet it is unclear how to attribute a monetary cost to an informal caregiver's time,” the study authors wrote.

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