The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the results of an extensive study led by the RAND Corporation into the costs of caring for patients afflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people affected, and the costs of their care, are turning dementia into the number one disease in the United States. According to the study, in 2010, the costs of care for dementia were $109 billion, as compared to $102 billion for heart disease and $77 billion for cancer. Of those 71 years of age or older, 15% or approximately 3.8 million people have dementia. In the next 25 years, it is estimated that the number of people affected will grow to over 9 million.
The costs of caring for dementia patients are particularly high, because of the chronic, progressive, and long-term nature of the disease. Many patients require constant surveillance, and cannot be left alone. Also, care of dementia patients often takes a toll on family members, financially, physically, and emotionally.
If family members or close friends are showing signs of the onset of dementia (typically memory or cognitive difficulties), it is time to seek advice from an Elder Law attorney about options for care, and preservation of assets and income.