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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Global Dementia Care Costs Soar

Study: Dementia Care Cost World More Than $315 Billion in 2005
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 16, 2007 -- Dementia care costs topped $315 billion worldwide in 2005, a new study shows.

"Worldwide costs for dementia are enormous," write the researchers.

They included Anders Wimo, MD, PhD, of the department of neurobiology, care sciences, and society at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Wimo's team estimated the cost of direct medical care and informal care (such as relatives' help with daily life) around the world. They used dementia data and economic statistics including average wage in various countries.

The researchers calculated the financial worth of informal care, which is usually given for free by patients' loved ones. It's hard to put a dollar value on that work, but the researchers write that their assumptions are "based on the best available data."

The global cost of dementia care in 2005 includes $105 billion in informal care, according to Wimo and colleagues.

They previously estimated that the worldwide direct cost of dementia care was $156 billion in 2003. That figure doesn't include informal dementia care cost.

The new figures are higher, and not just because they include informal dementia care costs.

The researchers point out that the world's population is aging. Dementia becomes more likely with advanced age, but it's not a normal part of aging.

Wimo's team notes that in 2005, an estimated 29.3 million people worldwide had dementia, compared with 27.7 million in 2003.

Average wages have also risen since the 2003 estimate, note Wimo and colleagues.

Their study appears in the April edition of Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

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