Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health
U.S. Dementia Care Costs at $215 Billion in 2010; To
Pass Heart Disease, Cancer: NIH Study
BRAIN initiative announced by Obama this week will
use a new generation of tools to learn secrets to Alzheimer’s
disease and other neurological disorders
April 4, 2013 - The costs of caring for people with
dementia in the United States in 2010 were between $159 billion to $215
billion, and those costs could rise dramatically with the increase in
the numbers of older people in coming decades, according to estimates
from a study of people age 71 and older. And, the study indicates the
costs of care comparable to, if not greater than, those for heart
disease and cancer.
The study, by researchers at RAND Corp. and the
University of Michigan, supported by the National Institutes of Health
was published today (April 4) in The New England Journal of Medicine.
It looks at totaled direct medical expenditures and costs attributable
to the vast network of informal, unpaid care that supports people with
Dementia is a loss of brain function that affects
memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior; the most common form
is Alzheimer's. It is associated with aging.
Depending on how informal care is calculated,
national expenditures in 2010 for dementia among people aged 71 and
older were found to be $159 billion to $215 billion. The Alzheimer's
Association in March of 2012 estimated the cost that year would be $200
here to news story or this report on Alzheimer's facts and figures)
The researchers first looked at care purchased in
the health care market — formal costs for nursing homes, Medicare, and
out-of-pocket expenses. The direct costs of dementia care purchased in
the market were estimated to be $109 billion in 2010, exceeding direct
health costs for heart disease ($102 billion) and cancer ($77 billion)
that same year.
Adding informal, unpaid care to the equation as
much as doubled the estimated total national costs for dementia care.
The study estimated full costs per case of dementia in 2010 at $41,000
Obama Administration: A Plan To Prevent Alzheimer’s By 2025
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Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health
The lower number accounts for foregone wages among
caregivers, while the higher figure valued hours of informal care as the
equivalent of formal paid care. The range of national expenditures was
tallied based on an estimated prevalence of dementia of 14.7 percent in
the U.S. population older than 70.
The researchers also project skyrocketing costs as
the baby boom grows older; the Bureau of the Census estimates that the
population age 65 and older will double to about 72 million over the
next 20 years.
Rates of dementia increase with age, and unless new
ways are found to treat and effectively prevent it, national health
expenditures for dementia could come close to doubling by 2040, as the
aging population increases and assuming the rate of dementia remains the
"These findings reveal that the enormous emotional
and physical demands of caring for people with dementia are accompanied
by the similarly imposing financial burdens of dementia care," said
Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the NIH's National Institute on
Aging (NIA), which funded the analysis.
"The national costs further compel us to do all we
can to find effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease and related
dementias as soon as possible."
The complex analysis is one of the most
comprehensive yet to determine health care costs for dementia. It is
based on a nationally representative sample from the Health and
Retirement Study (HRS), a survey of people 51 years and older that is
funded by the NIA with contributions from the Social Security
Interest in national health expenditures for
Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias has intensified with the
January 2011 signing of the
National Alzheimer's Project Act
(NAPA),which calls for stepped up efforts to find new
treatments and to improve care and services.
Under NAPA, the Administration is leading
development and implementation of a National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s
Disease, under which new research studies, the new web portal
new clinical training initiatives have moved forward.
"We are just entering the second year of our
national plan to fight Alzheimer’s disease," said NIH Director Francis
"It is a dedicated battle on many fronts, including
capitalizing on research opportunities now before us. The new BRAIN
initiative announced by the President just this week, for example, will
use a new generation of tools to help us learn the secrets to many
neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.”
Identifying costs of dementia has been challenging.
People with Alzheimer's and other dementias are typically older and
often have multiple medical conditions, such as stroke and depression,
diseases commonly co-occurring with dementia. It is also difficult to
capture the national costs of family-provided or other informal care.
To overcome such barriers, the researchers focused
on dementia rates and costs among volunteers aged 71 and older
participating in a sub-study of the HRS, the Aging, Demographics, and
Memory Study (ADAMS). For this analysis:
Some 856 ADAMS volunteers received a three to
four-hour in-home clinical assessment for dementia. An expert panel
reviewed the test results to determine who was demented, cognitively
impaired but not demented, and normal.
Researchers then used these data to determine the
national prevalence rate, and previously collected cognitive and
functional measures on 10,903 people in the full HRS sample of people
older than 70 to estimate dementia care costs based on the use and costs
of health care services reported by this same group.
"Dementia costs currently rival those of cancer and
heart disease. But, within 30 years, dementia may be in a league of its
own," said Richard M. Suzman, Ph. D., director of NIA's Division of
Social and Behavioral Research.
"Unless effective interventions are found to treat
Alzheimer's, formal long-term dementia care costs will escalate for the
baby boom generation, as they have fewer children available to provide
unpaid, informal care."
The NIA leads the federal government effort in
conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and
well-being of older people. It provides information on age-related
cognitive change and neurodegenerative disease specifically at its
Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at
For expanded information on Alzheimer’s care and resources, visit
the federal government's portal website
http://www.Alzheimers.gov . Information on health and on aging generally can be found at
http://www.nia.nih.gov. To sign up for e-mail alerts about
new findings or publications, please visit either NIA website.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH,
the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers
and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic,
clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the
causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For
more information about NIH and its programs, visit
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