What are the costs of Alzheimer’s care for those suffering from this terrible illness?
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease worsen, both patient care and caregiver costs rise dramatically, suggesting that treatment to slow progression of the degenerative brain disease may help lower costs.
The UCLA research, showed that for a six-month period, costs associated with Alzheimer’s could rise to more than $30,000 per patient, depending on severity of symptoms.
The researchers found that, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the cost to society increases and those costs included the direct health care costs as well as lost productivity of caregivers.
For the six-month period examined, health care costs totaled approximately $20,000 for a high functioning patient — someone recently diagnosed who has memory loss, but is still able to conduct some activities of daily life.
For patients with severe dementia, the study found that health care costs rose to approximately $35,000 during the same period.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is one of the most costly disorders among the elderly. The number of sufferers in the United States is expected to grow from 4 million to 14 million over the next half century.
The UCLA study was based on a national survey of caregivers representing 1,700 Alzheimer’s patients who are not in institutions or nursing homes.
The research was funded by Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, a unit of Johnson & Johnson Inc. and the maker of Reminyl.
If you look at overall costs regardless of severity of symptoms, the cost of direct care for patients, going to the hospital, visiting physicians, is about $3,000. The cost to caregivers is about ten times greater, about $26,000. That’s cost translated into missed days at work and hours spent per week caring for patients.
In addition to early treatment, more help for caregivers may also help control the costs of Alzheimer’s. According to the study, caregivers spent an average of 85 hours a week caring for patients.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society February 2002