The Global Cost of Dementia

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

With each new study, the numbers get bigger and scarier. The latest report, The Global Economic Impact of Dementia, released by the non-profit group Alzheimer's Disease International, is no exception. The full report can be downloaded here.

At a top line level, the report estimated the annual cost of care for demented patients at over $600B or about 1% of the world's gross domestic product. Astoundingly, that figure is dwarfed by the projected rise in costs over the next decades. In fact, the report estimates that costs could reach nearly $2 trillion by the year 2050. A good summary of these findings are published online by Time.

While a cure is the goal that everyone seeks, a cold economic look at the disease makes it clear that the crippling expense of care comes primarily from patients in the moderate to severely demented stages of illness, when they cannot administer their own lives. While delaying progression to those stages might seem to be an uninspiring health care goal, it is a very attractive economic goal.

To that end, earlier intervention and robust treatment, including a balanced diet, physical exercise, pharmaceutical therapy, and tight control of diabetes and any present cardiovascular risks, should be a high priority in the primary care setting.

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