The cost of care for a person with dementia is much higher than for a person suffering from heart disease or cancer, says a new study.
The study was led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dartmouth College and University of California, Los Angeles, the cost of care over the last five years of life for patients with dementia is significantly higher than patients who die from heart disease, cancer, or other causes.
‘The average total cost of care for a person with dementia was US $287,038. For a patient who died of heart disease it was $175,136 and for a cancer patient it was $173,383. This was for a period of over 5 years.’
The study found that out-of-pocket spending for patients with dementia was 81 percent higher than for those who died from other causes.
The average total cost of care for a person with dementia over those five years was $287,038. For a patient who died of heart disease it was $175,136 and for a cancer patient it was $173,383. Medicare paid almost the same amount for patients with each of those diseases — close to $100,000 — but dementia patients had many more expenses that were not covered.
The burden of cost measured as the proportion of household wealth devoted to out-of-pocket costs, was particularly high for dementia patients who had less than a high school education, unmarried or widowed women and blacks.
"Our study shows that all households, regardless of disease, face substantial financial risks during the last years of life; however, households of those with dementia face an even greater burden of costs, particularly with regard to out-of-pocket expenses and the costs of caregiving," said Dr Amy Kelley, Associate Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and lead author of the study.
"Many costs related to daily care for patients with dementia are not covered by health insurance, and these care needs--from supervision, to bathing and feeding--may span several years," she added.
Dr. Diane E. Meier, a professor of geriatrics and palliative care at Mount Sinai Hospital, said, "Most families are unprepared for the financial burden of dementia, assuming Medicare will pick up most costs. What patients and their families don't realize is that they are on their own."
The study funded by the National Institute on Aging was the first to look at total costs (patient and family expenses, as well as Medicare and Medicaid expenditures) over the last five years of life for those with dementia in comparison to those without.
The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.