The Cost of Dementia: $156 Billion and Rising
Researchers Say Most Spending Occurs in Advanced Economies
WebMD News Archive
June 20, 2005 -- Dementia cost the world $156 billion in 2003, say Swedish
The sum could grow larger as more people live longer, say Bengt Winblad, MD,
and colleagues. Their estimate covers dementia's direct costs, based on nearly
28 million people with dementia worldwide.
Most of the spending (92%) occurred in countries with advanced economies.
However, those nations account for less than four out of 10 dementia cases, say
The most common form of dementia among older people is
Alzheimer's disease. It's not a normal
part of aging, but it's most often seen with advanced age.
Care Methods Vary
The 2003 global tab for dementia may not be precise. The actual number could
be anywhere from $129-$156 billion, say the researchers. They examined figures
on the prevalence of dementia from different regions and also examined
cost-of-illness studies from key countries.
"Dementia care is a mix of formal and informal care giving, and this mix
is not uniform throughout the world," says Winblad, in a news release.
"Even among the advanced economies, there is a great range in how dementia
care is provided, due to differences in family patterns, traditions, economic
strength, care organization, and financing."
"Nevertheless, it is obvious that the worldwide costs are
substantial," says Winblad. He is a professor of geriatric medicine and
chief physician at Sweden's Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska
Dementia Increase Predicted
As more people live longer, the number of people with dementia is predicted
to grow. For instance, an estimated 4.5 million people in the U.S. have
Alzheimer's disease, says the Alzheimer's Association.
That's more than twice as many as in 1980. But it's only a fraction of the
11.3 million to 16 million Alzheimer's cases the association predicts for the
U.S. by the year 2050.
"The expected increase of elderly people, especially the anticipated
rapid increase in developing countries, presents a great challenge for social
and health care systems," says Winblad.