Costs of Alzheimer's Disease

Contributed by: Michael Rafii, M.D., Ph.D - Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the University of California, San Diego. ______________________________________

I wanted to share with you an update on the cost estimates of AD. These are, of course, in addition to the incalculable emotional losses caused by the disease, but are quite astonishing in themselves. There is also, however, a financial cost of the disease. In 1998 and again in 2002, reports were commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Association on the costs to U.S. businesses. Both studies were shocking. “Alzheimer’s Disease: The Costs to U.S. Businesses,” authored by Ross Koppel, Ph.D., of the Social Research Corporation and the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, found that the 2002 Alzheimer’s cost to U.S. businesses would be in excess of $61 billion.

To put that number into perspective, this amount is equal to the net profits of the top ten Fortune 500 companies and exactly double the amount that was calculated in the 1998 report. The costs to businesses to cover medical insurance and disability for workers with Alzheimer’s was $24.6 billion. The costs incurred because workers must take on the tremendous responsibilities as family caregivers was $36.5 billion due to absenteeism, productivity losses, and replacement costs.

Alzheimer's Disease will rack up more than $20 trillion in treatment costs over the next 40 years in the United States, according to a report yesterday that calls on Congress to increase funding for drug research.

The report issued by the Alzheimer's Association found that from 2010 to 2050, the cost of caring for Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease will increase more than six times to $1.08 trillion per year. Currently, $172 billion a year is spent by the government, private insurance and individuals to care for people with the disease, the most common cause of dementia.

However, if a drug were discovered by 2015 that slowed disease progression, it could cut the number of people in the severe stage of Alzheimer's disease in half to 1.1 million by 2020, and 1.2 million in 2050, down from the projections of 6.5 million. The fiscal imperative for finding a cure is now blindingly clear.


  1. This is an incredibly important issue. Doesn't the goverment realize that costs of AD patients will dwarf any stimulus bill?

  2. Also, why would the gov't cut the in-home care assistance when this route is WAY cheaper than paying for nursing home care?? I get paid to care for two parents with dementia at home, and believe me, the gov't is getting a v. good deal. They won't even contribute to unemployment insurance out of the paycheck, let alone SS and Medicare.
    But as you say, finding an effective drug for staving off this disease is PRIORITY.