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Annual Cost of Dementia About $200 Billion in U.S.

WEDNESDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- In 2010, about 15 percent of elderly individuals in the United States had dementia, with the total monetary cost about $200 billion, according to a study published in the April 4 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Michael D. Hurd, Ph.D., from RAND in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues used data from a subsample of 856 individuals from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to estimate the prevalence of dementia among the full HRS sample of 10,903 older adults. Based on self-reported out-of-pocket spending, utilization of nursing home care, Medicare claims data, and valuation of the hours of informal (unpaid) care, the market costs associated with caring for those with dementia were determined.

The researchers estimated that the prevalence of dementia in the United States among those aged 70 years and older was 14.7 percent in 2010. Depending on how informal care was valued (the cost of equivalent paid care or estimated wages forgone), the yearly cost per person due to dementia was $56,290 or $41,689, for a total cost of $157 billion to $215 billion nationwide in 2010. About $11 billion of this cost was paid by Medicare, according to the study.

"Dementia represents a substantial financial burden on society, one that is similar to the financial burden of heart disease and cancer," Hurd and colleagues conclude.

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