In 2018, the total cost of care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to reach $277 billion. That figure is expected to keep ballooning in coming years and decades, and a growing proportion of spending has been going toward in-home care.
This is the second consecutive year that total payments to care for this patient population will surpass a quarter-trillion dollars, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, which released the updated numbers in its annual Facts and Figures report on Tuesday.
“Soaring prevalence, rising mortality rates and lack of an effective treatment all lead to enormous costs to society, [and] Alzheimer’s is a burden that’s only going to get worse,” said Keith Fargo, Ph.D., director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association, in a press release.
The current total estimated lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia is pegged at $341,840. Total spending on home care for people with dementia nearly doubled between 2004 and 2011, according to the report. This is likely due to a variety of factors, including a concerted effort by states to shift Medicaid spending from skilled nursing facilities to home- and community-based settings.
Medicare spending, which covers skilled home health care among other services, is markedly higher for people with dementia compared to those without. For seniors without dementia, average annual per-person payments for health care and long-term care total about $7,400 in 2017 dollars. That figure rises to $24,122 for people who have dementia.
For home health care specifically, annual Medicare expenditures average $367 for beneficiaries who do not have dementia, while the average is $2,525 for those with dementia.
Comorbid conditions are also common in people with dementia, with coronary artery disease and diabetes being the most prevalent other diagnoses, according to the report. The presence of comorbidities also drives up spending. For instance, the average annual per-person Medicare payment for a senior with coronary artery disease is $1,020. That goes up to $2,461 if the person also has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Going forward, dementia-related caregiving costs are only expected to increase further, hitting more than $1.1 trillion in 2050, in 2018 dollars. Current trends suggest that an increasing proportion of this spending will go toward in-home care. From 1999 to 2015, it became increasingly common for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia died at home, versus in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Click here to read the complete report.