New Research Reveals Costs of Dementia Care Higher than for Any Other Condition
The information in the latest research results by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) won't come as a shock to those caring for, or having cared for, someone with dementia. The information that out-of-pocket costs in the care for those with dementia in the last five years of life being 81% more than even the care for those with heart disease or cancer likely validates what families and spouses have long experienced.
The NIA's research involved the study of more than 1,700 people age 70 and older for the period 2005-2010, studying four sub-groups of people with diagnoses of likely dementia, heart disease, cancer, and other causes. Although the cost to Medicare were about the same for each of the sub-groups, out-of-pocket expenses for dementia at approximately $61,500 were substantially higher than for any of the other sub-groups at $34,000.
What does this mean to a population that is aging faster than those that are replacing it? How will the cost burdens be handled by not only those with dementia and their caregivers, but also society?
When out-of-pocket costs become prohibitive, either due to no savings, savings having been exhausted, family unable/unwilling to take on care costs, what will be the outcome for the dementia patient? In many instances, these people will then require the additional assistance of Medicaid, either in the community or in a long-term care facility. Since Medicaid is funded by tax dollars, will citizens be willing to pay what it requires to fund these costs or will other solutions be required?
I don't foresee simple solutions now or in the future. Answers will begin to depend largely the value of care of the aging. Will the younger generations, feeling the burden of care for those past retirement age, come to think enough is enough -- perhaps not out of choice, but necessity? If so, what then?
Resources: National Institutes of Health; Health care costs for dementia found greater than for any other disease ; 10-27-2015
Annals of Internal Medicine; The Burden of Health Care Costs for Patients with Dementia in the Last 5 Years of Life ; 10-27-2015
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/hands-walking-stick-elderly-981400/ by stevepb