New Study: Cost of Dementia Tops Cancer and Heart Disease in the US

'Alzheimer's disease' highlighted in green, under the heading 'Alzheimer's'A study released on April 3rd by The Rand Corporation and published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 4th, states that the cost of Dementia is more costly to the nation than either heart disease or cancer.

This study funded by the National Institute on Aging is regarded as the most-detailed examination because it eliminates costs related to other illnesses suffered by Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

In 2011, President Obama signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which calls for increased efforts to find new treatments and to provide improved care for those with dementia. The law also requires that the financial costs of dementia be tracked.

In 2010 Dementia care costs reached $109 billion, compared to $102 billion for heart disease and $77 billion for cancer. The costs for cancer and health disease do not include the cost of informal care, which is likely to be larger for dementia whose total is associated with providing long-term nursing home or in-home care rather than medical services.

The cost of Dementia currently ranges from $157 billion to $215 billion annually in United States and as the population continues to grow older, if the prevalence of the disease increases, costs could more than double by 2040.

According to Matthew Baumgart, Senior Director of Public Policy at the Alzheimer’s Association, “The bottom line here is: Dementia is among the most costly diseases to society, and we need to address this if we’re going to come to terms with the cost to the Medicare and Medicaid system.”

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life that accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Though the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, it’s not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s. Current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

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