Dementia costs rocket past heart disease, cancer

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Healthcare costs for people with dementia are more than 80% higher than those for people with heart disease or cancer, a new study has found.

Patients with heart disease had an average total cost of $175,136 over the last five years of their lives; those with cancer incurred $173,383 over the same span. The costs for patients with dementia was $287,038, a finding the study's authors called “stunning.” Investigators from New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai compared healthcare costs for patients on Medicare from information gathered from the Health and Retirement Survey.

The researchers estimate out-of-pocket costs for dementia patients was, on average, $61,522, due to the increased level of care and supervision needed by those with dementia. Those caregiving costs were not covered by Medicare, the authors noted.

“This places a large financial burden on families, and these burdens are particularly pronounced among the demographic groups that are least prepared for financial risk,” wrote lead author Amy S. Kelley, M.D.

The study was published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.