Bank Accounts Drained by Dementia

Dementia has been found to be the most expensive disease that kills Americans with no effective treatments to slow its course. A study of Medicare patients showed the average total cost of care for a person with dementia, for five years, was $287,038, making it significantly more expensive than both cancer and heart disease due to the greatest number of non-covered expenses. The out-of-pocket cost for a patient with dementia was $61,522 because of the need for caregivers to help with basic activities. Compared to costs for the other two leading diseases, many of which are covered by Medicare, dementia costs escalate with the need for full-time home or nursing home care for long periods of time. The high cost of dementia care is more than 80 percent higher than the cost for someone with heart disease or cancer.    Cost estimates were provided by Dr. Amy S. Kelley, geriatrician at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York and the lead author of the paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. She stated that the cost of caring for a dementia patient often “consumed almost their entire household wealth.”  Data was collected from the Health and Retirement Survey, a federally funded study that conducts detailed interviews every two years with a nationally representative sample of older people. A link to the Medicare database provided data on participants’ total medical costs. A second link was to the National Death Index that provided health care spending on nursing homes and home health care. Estimated costs of unpaid care were added to come up with the total.  From:   New York Times, Oct. 27, 2015.