The estimated prevalence of dementia among persons older than 70 years of age in the United States was 14.7% in 2010.

In this study, 856 individuals from the Health and Retirement Study in the USA (total 10,903 subjects) were assessed for diagnosis of dementia. The market costs associated with care for subjects with dementia were determined on the basis of self-reported out-of-pocket spending and the utilization of nursing home care.  Medicare claims data were used to identify costs paid by Medicare. Hours of informal (unpaid) care were valued either as the cost of equivalent formal (paid) care or as the estimated wages forgone by informal caregivers.

The study concluded that the yearly monetary cost per person for dementia was either $56,290 or $41,689, depending on the method used to estimate informal care value. The total monetary cost of dementia in 2010 was estimated to be between $157 billion and $215 billion. Medicare only paid approximately $11 billion of this cost.

The authors concluded that dementia represents a substantial financial burden to society, and is similar to the financial burden of heart disease and cancer.

Hurd, MD, Martorell, P, Delavande, A, Mullen, KJ, and Langa, KM: Monetary Costs of Dementia in the United States. New England J. Med. 368:1326-1334 (2013).

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