Costs For Dementia End of Life Care Is Higher Than Any Other Care

December 2, 2015 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Caring for dementia patients is a growing concern in the US. With baby boomers reaching retirement age, the costs for handling their care is going to be expensive as they live longer. Major improvements in the treatment of cancer, heart disease and other causes of death have extended life, while dementia still has no significant cure. Rates for the top five causes of death have dropped since 1969 compared to 2013. There have been reductions in heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and other unintentional deaths. The only other increase has been with victims of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Advances in treatment have pushed life expectancy to 80 years. Those diagnosed with dementia are finding their care requires more time and effort from caregivers than other conditions which is estimated to be about 81% higher in the last five years of life than for patients without dementia.

Dementia erodes the ability to perform basic life skills and requires constant caregiving in the last stages. Chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease require less intensive care and are less expensive compared to dementia.  End of life care is about $287,000 for dementia patients compared to $175,000 for heart disease and $173,000 for cancer. The numbers do not reflect the personal toll on caregivers who lose sleep, get less exercise and pay less attention to themselves. People with Alzheimer’s Disease can live for as long as 20 years, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. However, on average they live about 8 years after symptoms start to show. Unfortunately, Medicare does not currently cover the cost of caregiving for people with dementia. Since risk for dementia increases as people age, it is important to plan financially for the later years.

 

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by  Sheri Chandler

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