ANN ARBOR---Caring for older Americans with dementia costs more than $18 billion a year in additional time spent by family and friends, according to a University of Michigan study published in the November issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Based on data from the U-M Health and Retirement Study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, the study is one of the first to use a large, nationally representative sample of older Americans to estimate the additional time and associated costs of providing informal care to those with dementia.
The Health and Retirement Study is conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), the world's largest academic survey and research organization.
The analysis of more than 7,000 Americans age 70 and over showed that those with cognitive impairments received substantially more informal help than those with normal cognitive function. This help includes assistance with basic daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and fixing meals, and with less frequent activities including grocery shopping and managing money.
"We found that the care-giving burden on family members increased substantially as cognitive impairment worsened," says Kenneth M. Langa, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study. "Those with mild dementia received 8.5 more hours of care per week than elders with normal cognitive function, who received only 4.6 hours of help per week. And those with severe dementia received 41.5 more hours of help per week than elders with normal cognition."
With the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, projected to more than triple in the United States over the next 50 years, from about 2.3 million to 8.7 million cases, the study findings underscore the importance of including valid
Contact: Diane Swanbrow
University of Michigan