Dementia costs more than cancer, heart disease
The financial burden of caring for people with dementia keeps climbing and now, according to a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine, it costs at least $159 billion a year, making it more expensive than treatment for both cancer and heart disease.
Medical bills for treating dementia are a relatively small percentage of the toll, ranging between 16 and 25 percent of the total cost. But nursing home care bills—averaging $13,900 per patient per year–and the cost of home health aides—roughly $5,700 per patient—together cost about $109 billion. And the bills don’t stop there, as unpaid care provided by family and caregivers – “informal care” – costs between $50 billion and $106 billion once the cost of care and passed-up paychecks have been accounted for.
Dementia is characterized by symptoms that may prevent people from handling every day activities, from losing track of medications and finances ranging to the inability to dress or bathe oneself. Research from the Health and Retirement Study estimates that 14.7 percent of Americans over the age of 70 now suffer from dementia.
If present trends continue, the total cost of care may double by 2040.