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Estate and Elder Law

Dementia Cases and Costs

Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) recently published the World Alzheimer Report 2010, The Global Impact of Dementia.  ADI is the international federation of Alzheimer associations throughout the world.  The report includes information regarding the global cost of dementia and projections on the numbers of dementia case in the future.  The report was written by Martin Prince, M.D., of Britain's King's College London Institute of Psychiatry and Anders Wimo, M.D., of Sweden's Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and expanded on the findings of the World Alzheimer Report 2009.

The report estimates that there are 36.5 million people living with dementia worldwide (approximately 0.5% of the world's population), and this figure is likely to increase to 65.7 million people by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.  Approximately two-thirds of those with dementia live in low and middle income countries.  A high proportion of persons with dementia need some care, from assistance with the activities of daily living, to full personal care and total supervision.

The authors report that the total estimated worldwide costs of dementia in 2010 is approximately $604 billion.  They say that if dementia care were a country, it would be the world's 18th largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia.  If dementia care were a company, it would be the world's largest by annual revenue, exceeding companies such as Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil.  Approximately 70% of the dementia care costs occur in Western Europe and North America.  Direct costs of medical care, including costs of treating dementia and other conditions in primary and secondary care, are one component of overall cost, and comprise approximately 16% of total costs worldwide.  Medical care includes costs of hospital care, medication, and visits to clinics.  Direct costs of social care include care provided by community care professionals and in residential home settings, such as home care, food supply, and transport, and residential or nursing home care.  Costs of informal care provided by family and others is the third cost component.  Informal care includes the time the family caregivers spend providing assistance with the basic activities of daily living, and with other activities of daily living such as managing finances, transportation and preparing food.  The direct costs of social care and the cost of informal care comprise approximately 42% each of the total costs.  In low and middle income countries, however, informal care accounts for the majority of total costs. 

The report predicts that the costs of dementia care will soar, estimating an 85% increase based only on the predicted increase of persons with dementia.  Costs in the low and middle income countries may rise faster than in high income countries because of economic development on the low and middle income countries.  The authors recommend development of cost-effective packages of medical and social care, so that the needs of persons with dementia and their caregivers can be met.  They also recommend development of evidence-based prevention strategies to meet the challenge of dementia and prepare for the future.  The Oast & Hook News will continue to monitor and report on developments in dementia care.


Oast & Hook has been providing quality legal services in Southeastern Virginia and North Carolina for more than 80 years. The attorneys at Oast & Hook can assist clients with their estate, financial, insurance, long-term care, veterans' benefits and special needs planning issues. Visit their website at for more information.

Sandra L. Smith joined the firm in 2003. She practices primarily in the areas of elder law, estate planning, estate and trust administration, special needs planning, asset protection planning, long-term care planning and Veterans' benefits. Ms. Smith is certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF).

In 2008, Ms. Smith was named as a Rising Star by Virginia Super Lawyers magazine. Rising Stars names the state's top up-and-coming attorneys.