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Dementia costs top those for heart disease or cancer, study finds
Date:4/4/2013

The monetary cost of dementia in the United States ranges from $157 billion to $215 billion annually, making the disease more costly to the nation than either heart disease or cancer, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The greatest economic cost of dementia is associated with providing institutional and home-based long-term care rather than medical services, according to the findings published in the April 4 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, is the most-detailed examination done in recent decades on the costs of dementia.

The prevalence of dementia increases strongly with age and the analysis suggests that the costs of dementia could more than double by 2040 if the age-specific prevalence rate of the disease remains constant as the nation's population continues to grow older.

"The economic burden of caring for people in the United States with dementia is large and growing larger," said Michael Hurd, the study's lead author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Our findings underscore the urgency of recent federal efforts to develop a coordinated plan to address the growing impact of dementia on American society."

The new cost estimates are lower than ones reported previously by the Alzheimer's Association. Researchers say the new study provides a clearer picture of the economic burden caused by the disease because it eliminates costs related to other illnesses suffered by dementia patients, accounts for variations in the severity of dementia and uses a better estimate of the incidence of the illness.

Dementia is a chronic disease of aging characterized by progressive cognitive decline that interferes with independent functioning. The illness includes Alzheimer's disease and other disorders.

In 2011, President Obama signed the National Alzheimer's Project Act, which calls for increased efforts to f
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Contact: Warren Robak
media@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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