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Worldwide Dementia Price Tag $604 Billion: Report

U.S. government urged to make Alzheimer's a priority

TUESDAY, Sept. 21, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- The global cost of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias in 2010 is an estimated $604 billion, according to a report released Tuesday by Alzheimer's Disease International.

The estimate includes direct costs of medical care in primary and secondary care settings, direct costs of social care provided in residential care settings and by community care professionals, and unpaid informal care offered by family caregivers and others.

The World Alzheimer Report 2010 found that the cost of Alzheimer's and related dementias is about 1 percent of the world's gross domestic product and that if dementia care were a country, it would be the world's 18th largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia.

Among the other findings:

  • If dementia care were a company, it would be the world's largest by annual revenue, ahead of such giants as Wal-Mart ($414 billion) and Exxon Mobil ($311 billion).
  • Worldwide costs of dementia will increase 85 percent by 2030. This is a conservative estimate that considers only increases in the number of people with dementia, said the report authors.
  • Costs in low- and middle-income countries are likely to rise much faster than in rich nations. This is because these countries will see a sharper rise in the numbers of people with dementia, and economic development will boost costs towards levels in rich countries.

Alzheimer's Disease International is a U.K.-based nonprofit federation of 73 national Alzheimer's organizations, including the Alzheimer's Association in the United States.

"This report clearly illustrates that dementia is already affecting health systems around the world, and for the families who are forced to face Alzheimer's the anguish is universal. The World Alzheimer Report 2010 urges all countries -- including the U.S. -- to develop national plans to deal with the disease," Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, said in an association news release.

The group will present Congress with a 100,000-name petition Tuesday, urging lawmakers to make Alzheimer's disease a national priority.

"Given the magnitude and the impact of Alzheimer's, the U.S. federal government's response to this crisis has been stunningly neglectful," Johns said. "We know Alzheimer's will place a massive strain on an already overburdened health care system, especially Medicare and Medicaid. Substantial investment in Alzheimer research is required to avoid an even more painful future for American families and already overwhelmed state and federal budgets. Yet, the government has no national plan for how to deal with this crisis."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCE: Alzheimer's Association, news release, Sept. 21, 2010
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