care holding arms older personIn the last five years of life, average out-of-pocket costs for older people with dementia are more than 80% higher than for older people without dementia (about $62,000 versus $34,000). Medicare covers the drugs and surgeries used to treat common conditions such as heart disease and cancer, but does not cover the cost of supervision and help with eating, dressing, and other daily activities, which are primarily what people with dementia need.

When researchers accounted for the value of unpaid family care, they estimated that the cost of care in the last five years of life for someone with dementia averaged about $287,000, significantly higher than the care costs for someone who died of heart disease (about $175,000) or cancer (about $173,000). Not only were care costs higher for people with dementia, but a larger share of those costs were not covered.

Families also spent a larger share of their assets on dementia care than on care for other conditions, 32% versus 11% of family assets, respectively, in the last five years of life. Most of this spending is on long-term care costs either in facilities or at home. African American families, people with less than a high school education, and unmarried or widowed women experienced the greatest economic burden.

When analysts put a monetary value on unpaid caregiving, the economic costs of dementia in the United States totaled an estimated $305 billion for 2020 and are projected to increase to $1.5 trillion by 2050.

The combined costs of nursing home care, paid home care, and the value of unpaid care make up most of dementia care costs (between 75% to 84%).


Read the full article with references: Fact Sheet: U.S. Dementia Trends from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), October 2021.