189 Billion Euros A Year: Cost of Dementia

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A new research from the Oxford University in England has estimated that the total expenditure for dementia among 15 western European countries last 2007 has amounted to 189 billion Euros, or approximately 165 billion pounds. Most of these amount is made up of unpaid care from family and friends. This study, funded by the Alzheimer’s Research UK, is still in press and will be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Ramon Luengo-Fernandez led the work and told the press that, “Dementia has a very significant impact across European countries, and the burden falls mainly on unpaid carers.”

Fernandez and his colleagues has estimated that the cost of informal care reached to more than two thirds of the total (68%), while the 26% came from social care and long term treatment institutions like nursing homes and residential cares. Also, 5% accounted for health care. Losses due to unproductivity has led to loss of earning capacity and premature death made up the remaining 1%.

15 countries were included in the analysis were members of the European Union (EU-15) before the Eastern expansion in 2004. These countries include: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK). These 15 countries have available comparative data so the researchers were able to employ the same method for each of the countries.

In terms of health and social care expenditures, Luxembourg recorded the highest and most expensive, followed by Sweden and UK. Across the 15 states of EU, the average per capita cost was 9,863 Euros or 8,523 pounds, although it varied from country to another, i.e. for UK, the cost reached as high as 13,200 pounds.

As for the cost of informal care that is rendered to the people with dementia living in the community, an estimated 4.4 million people are covered. In sum, they receive about 11.9 billion hours of unpaid care from family members and friends.

According to Fernandez, this informal care cost, in essence, is the value rooted from people’s loving care. As for their calculations, they estimated the opportunity cost of providing care to their loved ones, using the economic value of the time which informal caregivers could have spent doing things other than taking care of their loved ones with dementia.

Following informal care rendered are long term care facilities rendered by nursing homes and residential care facilities. According to Fernandez, these are the “forgotten bit of the healthcare system.”

“As its funding in the UK is not centralised – bits of funding come from Whitehall, others from local authorities, some of it is private – it has probably not received the required attention. This is true for the majority of European countries,” he said.

“Richer countries tend to have higher costs, especially in medicine and health. Healthcare is a luxury good – the higher the income of a country, the greater the proportion of total income that will be devoted to healthcare. For example, salaries in the UK for consultants and GPs are markedly higher than for a comparable medical doctor in Spain,” he explained.

Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research in UK, Rebecca Wood said that

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Chief Executive, Rebecca Wood, said: “The only answer to dementia is research into treatments and preventions that can reduce its impact, improve individuals’ quality of life, or cure the condition.”




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