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Dementia care costs $109 billion a year

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 22, 2013

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Caring for patients with dementia in the United States costs more than treating cancer and heart disease, according to a study in the April 4 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

An estimated $109 billion was spent on dementia care in 2010, which includes costs for nursing homes, Medicare and out-of-pocket expenses, the study said. That year, $102 billion was spent on direct health care expenses for heart disease, and $77 billion was spent on cancer. Factoring in the cost of informal dementia care, which includes unpaid care provided by family, would boost the national expenditures for the disease to nearly $215 billion.

The annual per-person health care costs associated with dementia are between about $41,000 and $56,000, the study said (link).

Researchers examined data on the cognitive status of 10,903 people 51 and older who participated in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study of older adults. Dementia care costs were based on participants’ self-reported out-of-pocket spending and the use of nursing home care. Researchers also examined Medicare claims data.

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