Families Shoulder Majority of Dementia Care Costs

HealthDay News — Lifetime costs of care are substantially increased for individuals with dementia, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Eric Jutkowitz, PhD, from the School of Public Health at Brown University in Providence, RI, and colleagues developed an evidence-based mathematical model to simulate disease progression for newly diagnosed dementia. The authors predicted costs from data-driven trajectories of cognition, function, and behavioral and psychological symptoms.

The researchers found that from the time of diagnosis, the discounted total lifetime cost of care was $321,780 for a person with dementia. Families incurred 70% of the total cost burden, while Medicaid and Medicare accounted for 14 and 16%, respectively. 

Over a lifetime, costs for a person with dementia were $184,500 greater than for someone without dementia (86% incurred by families). The total annual and net costs peaked at $89,000 and $72,400, respectively. A 10% reduction in functional decline or behavioral and psychological symptoms resulted in $3,880 and $680 lower lifetime costs than natural disease progression.

“Dementia substantially increases lifetime costs of care,” the authors write. “Long-lasting, effective interventions are needed to support families because they incur the most dementia cost.”

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Jutkowitz E, Kanaae RL, Gaugler JE, MacLehose RF, Dowd B, Kuntz KN. Societal and family lifetime cost of dementia: implications for policy [published online August 17, 2017]. J Am Geriatr Soc. doi:10.1111/jgs.15043