The Soaring Cost Of Alzheimer’s And Dementia Care
September 21, 2013

The Soaring Cost Of Alzheimer’s And Dementia Care

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

The number of older men and women who will require long term care due to dementia or other health concerns will nearly triple by 2050, according to the World Alzheimer Report 2013, which was released on Thursday.

The study, which is subtitled “Journey of Caring: An analysis of long-term care for dementia” and was commissioned by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) and the UK healthcare organization Bupa, reports that the number of dependent older adults will reach 277 million in less than four decades.

Long-term care is necessary for 13 percent of those over the age of 60 worldwide, meaning that currently 101 million people have such care needs, the researchers said. Of those individuals, approximately half of them have dementia, including 80 percent of seniors currently residing in nursing homes.

The report warns that these trends will increase the burden on caregivers, as well as increase the global cost of treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, the worldwide cost of dementia care is more than $600 billion dollars, or around one percent of the global gross domestic product. Furthermore, with more older individuals in need of care, the family and friends who make up their care and support network require greater support themselves.

“It’s a staggering problem as the global population ages, placing enormous strain on families who provide the bulk of that care at least early on, and on national economies alike,” AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard wrote on Friday. She added that people who suffer from cognitive impairment are “7.5 times more likely than people with cancer, heart disease or other chronic ailments of older adults” to move into long-term care facilities, according to the study.

“An ageing population around the world means that improving dementia care and support is one of our generation's greatest healthcare challenges – a challenge we must tackle,” said Bupa Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Zollinger-Read. “We're calling on governments around the world to make dementia a national health priority by developing national dementia plans. National plans ensure that people living with dementia have a good quality of life and friends and family, who often take on the important role of a carer, are properly supported too.”

In an interview with the AP, ADI executive director Marc Wortmann called the findings “astonishing.” In a statement, he added that the report illustrates the need to “value those that provide frontline care for people with dementia. This includes paid, as well as unpaid family caregivers, who share much in common. Governments need to acknowledge the role of caregivers and ensure that there are policies in place to support them.”

According to Jacque Wilson of CNN, increasing longevity and an aging population are contributing to the problem, as more and more people need care, but there are fewer and fewer people able to provide it. Wilson reported that approximately four percent of the population in developed countries is over the age of 80.

That number is expected in increase to 10 percent by the year 2050, and Michael Hodin of the Global Coalition on Aging told Neergaard that in the near future “there will be more of us over 60 than under 15.” Furthermore, the Alzheimer's Association told Wilson that the global cost of treating dementia was $604 billion worldwide with $200 billion for the US alone. That global cost is expected to pass $1 trillion by 2050, they added.

Earlier this week, the US National Institutes of Health announced plans to fund $45 million in research to help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease, Neergaard said. Similarly, a study published Wednesday in the journal Neuron described a new class of imaging agents that could be used to observe the brain during the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.