Worldwide cost for dementia care is US$315 billion annually

16 April 2007

The total worldwide cost of dementia care is estimated to be US$315.4 billion annually, according to a report published in "An Estimate of the Total Worldwide Societal Costs of Dementia in 2005," in the April 2007 issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

The direct costs of dementia care are estimated to have been $210 billion in 2005. According to the researchers, the highest costs occur in North America and Europe. In individual countries, the total cost is highest in the U.S. at $76 billion, followed by Japan at $34 billion and China at $28 billion. Seventy-seven (77) percent of the total costs occurred in the world's more developed regions.

"The total worldwide costs of dementia are enormous, and the increasing numbers of elderly pose a challenge for care systems and societies worldwide. It is vital that there is more research into dementia. The advancements we make in treatment and prevention now will save millions of dollars and lives in the near future," said report co-author, Prof. Bengt Winblad, Chairman of Alzheimer's Disease International's (ADI's) Medical Scientific Advisory Panel

"With the number of people with dementia set to double every 20 years this US$315 billion annual cost will soon escalate," said Marc Wortmann, Executive Director, ADI." Governments need to make dementia a national health priority: prepare health and social systems for the future, provide quality community-based support services, invest in research and give access to treatment. Governments can learn from best practice in countries such as Australia and South Korea, where dementia is a health priority with matching budgetary allocation."

Notes to editors:

Details on the report:

Wimo, A*, Winblad, B*, Jönsson, L**; "An estimate of the total worldwide societal costs of dementia in 2005". Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association p81-91 April 2007
* Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
** European Health Economics, London, United Kingdom

The Report estimates costs by combining prevalence estimates, country and region specific data on GDP per person, and average wage with results from previously published cost-of-illness studies in different countries. Direct medical and non-medical costs as well as costs for informal care were included.

The researchers divided informal care into three basic types:

  • Support in personal activities of daily life (PADL) e.g. bathing and dressing
  • Support in instrumental activities of daily life (IADL) e.g. preparing food and shopping
  • Supervision/surveillance e.g. oversight of activities, and being available for safety reasons.

The researchers considered PADL as a stable and quantifiable dimension of informal care worldwide, and used it alone in the "base case" estimate. A "base case" estimate of the 2005 worldwide costs of informal dementia care is $105 billion. IADL and supervision were considered much more dependent on context and culture. However, the report highlights that if IADL and supervision are included, the informal care costs would rise from $105 billion to $485 billion annually.

On the basis of previous studies, 73% of people with dementia in developed countries were assumed to live at home and receive informal care in some way. 1.6 hours per day of support for PADL was used in the base option. For developing countries, the researchers assume that 90 percent of people with dementia live at home and receive 1.6 hours per day of informal PADL care. According to the researchers, costing informal care is a controversial and complicated issue. The base option for this study values informal care by the average wage for each country.

Dementia is a progressive degenerative brain syndrome which affects memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Declining memory, especially short-term memory is the most common early symptom of dementia. Other symptoms include difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation to time and place, poor or decreased judgment and changes in personality.

Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) is the international federation of 77 Alzheimer associations. ADI was founded in 1984 and is based in London. ADI has been in official working relations with the World Health Organization since 1996. ADI aims to establish and strengthen Alzheimer associations throughout the world, and to raise global awareness about dementia e.g. through training associations to work with governments to make dementia a health priority.

ADI commissioned the following report: "Global prevalence of dementia: A Delphi consensus study", Ferri, Prince, et al.; Lancet 2005; 366:2112-2117.

For more information about ADI please go to www.alz.co.uk

Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, published quarterly by Elsevier, presents the latest original, peer-reviewed, basic and clinical research advances in the field, including early detection, prevention and treatment. Coverage extends from healthy brain aging to all forms of dementia, and includes leading-edge material of interest to both the basic scientist and practitioner. Alzheimer's & Dementia focuses on bridging the knowledge gaps across diverse investigations ranging from the bench to the bedside.

The Journal is published by the Alzheimer's Association, which is the largest voluntary health organization in the USA dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and an eventual cure for Alzheimer's disease. For more than 25 years, the Association has provided reliable information and care consultation; created services for families; increased funding for research; and influenced public policy changes. The Alzheimer's Association is a founding member of Alzheimer's Disease International.

For more information visit: www.alzheimersanddementia.org & www.alz.org