New Report Details Global Impact of Dementia
“If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia. If it were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue exceeding Wal-Mart (US $414 billion) and Exxon Mobil (US $311 billion).” – From the World Alzheimer’s Report 2010: The Global Economic Impact of Dementia”
What is the global impact of dementia? That was the question addressed in a new report released by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) on Sept. 21 as part of World Alzheimer’s Day.
First, let me share a little background. ADI’s 2009 report projected that 35.6 million people would have dementia worldwide in 2010. That number is projected to increase to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050. Approximately two-thirds of these people live in low and middle income countries, where the largest increases in cases will occur.
In the 2010 report, Dr. Anders Wimo of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and Dr. Martin Prince of King’s College in the United Kingdom estimated that the total worldwide costs in relation to dementia will be $604 billion, of which 70% is spent in Western Europe and North America. These costs represent approximately 1% of the world’s gross domestic product.
These costs varied from 0.24% in low income countries, 0.35% in low middle income countries, 0.50% in high middle income countries, and 1.24% in high income countries. The differences were attributed to unpaid care provided by family and others, direct costs of social care, and direct costs of medical care. In low and middle income countries informal care represents the majority of total costs while direct social care costs are minimal.
The researchers also found that low income countries had 14% of the prevalence of dementia, but accounted for less than 1% of the total worldwide costs. Middle income countries had 40% of the prevalence and 10% of the cost. However, high income countries had 46% of the prevalence, and accounted for 89% of the costs. These discrepancies are due to much lower costs per person in lower income countries. “In lower income countries, informal care costs predominate, according for 58% of all costs in low income and 65% of all costs in lower middle income countries, compared with 40% in high income countries,” the researchers explained. “Conversely, in high income countries, the direct costs of social care (professional care in the community, and the costs of residential and nursing home care) account for the largest elements of costs – nearly one half, compared with only one tenth in lower income countries.”
“Lower income countries face a severe lack of recognition of dementia, placing a heavy burden on families and careers who often have no understanding of what is happening to their loved one,” the ADI chairman Daisy Acosta and executive director Marc Wortmann wrote in the report’s forward. “High income countries are struggling to cope with the demand for services, leaving many people with dementia and caregivers with little or no support.”