Dementia costs in the US will double within 30 years

New research by a team of economists at the RAND corporation, including ISER’s Professor of Economics, Adeline Delavande, has found that the costs of caring for people with dementia in the US is at least the same as the care costs for cancer, and is due to double in the next 30 years.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the cost of dementia care purchases ($109 billion) was similar to the estimated of the direct health care costs for heart disease ($102 billion) and significantly higher than the direct health costs for cancer ($77 billion). However, the costs for cancer and health disease do not include the cost of informal care, which is likely to be larger for dementia.

The RAND results show that nearly 15 percent of people in the USA, aged 71 or older, about 3.8 million people, have dementia. This leads an annual population cost of $159 billion to $215 billion when monetary value for informal care is included. By 2040, under the assumption that the prevalence rate and the cost per person with dementia remain the same, these costs will more than double because of the aging of the population. The ability to pay for this cost will be ameliorated by a growing population, but they are still expected to result in an increase of 80% in total societal costs per adult.

Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, which financed the study told the New York Times “I don’t know of any other disease predicting such a huge increase. 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 study is likely to be of interest to policy makers considering care costs in the UK and elsewhere as dementia is likely to increase globally alongside a rise in the aging population.


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