Dementia Care Costs Expected to Skyrocket Past $5 Billion by 2040

The cost of caring for those with dementia is expected to skyrocket in the next thirty years to more than $5 billion by some estimates, as the number of dementia diagnoses will likely double, according to new research published in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

The financial burden of dementia is similar to that for heart disease or cancer—and probably higher, the RAND Corporation researchers found in a study financed by the National Institute on Aging. Most care is given by informal caregivers, including family and friends. 

Currently, 14.7% of people older than 70 have dementia diagnoses, translating to about 3.8 million people. In less than 30 years, the study’s authors expect that number to more than double to 9.1 million.

“I don’t know of any other disease predicting such a huge increase,” said Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, to the New York Times. “And as we have the baby boomer group maturing, there are going to be more older people with fewer children to be informal caregivers for them, which is going to intensify the problem even more.”

The yearly monetary cost of care per person that was attributable to dementia ranged between $41,689 and $56,290, depending on the method used to value informal care. There are a couple different ways to calculate the value of this care, either by calculating the income a family member was forgoing to provide care, or by what a family would have paid for a professional caregiver. 

These figures suggest that the total monetary cost of dementia in 2010 was between $159 billion and $215 billion, according to the researchers. Of that, only about $11 billion was covered by Medicare, and between 75-84% of dementia costs comes from nursing home or in-home care, according to the study. 

Direct healthcare expenses for dementia amounted to $109 billion in 2010, including nursing home care. Researchers also tallied the value of informal care for dementia, generally provided by family members at home, to range between $50 billion and $106 billion. 

With the number of dementia cases projected to more than double, the total costs of dementia care will similarly more than double by 2040 to range between $379 billion to $511 billion, according to the researchers. 

Access the study, or read the New York Times article.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Alyssa Gerace

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