Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States. The combination of medical treatment and care services can cost a family tens of thousands each year. It also puts a financial burden on American society, costing the healthcare system billions of dollars. Fortunately, neurologists are finding breakthroughs that could make Alzheimer’s a disease of the past. Learn more about the costs of Alzheimer’s care and the steps to take now to protect brain health.
Alzheimer’s Care Costs
Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia, affect about 5.7% of adults aged 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease, in particular, is the most expensive disease in the United States, exceeding the treatment costs of cancer and heart disease.
To better understand the magnitude of the costs: if dementia care were a country, it would rank as the world’s 17th largest economy. The worldwide cost of dementia care is approximately $1 trillion, and in the US alone, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia cost $305 billion in 2020.
Common Types of Alzheimer’s Care:
- Ongoing medical treatment and doctor visits
- Safety-related expenses, such as home modifications for a person who wanders
- Prescription medications
- At-home or full-time residential care services
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, and therefore, an individuals’ care needs will change over time. Alzheimer’s care costs can depend on the patient’s wishes, like whether or not they prefer to live at home. The tendency for individuals to wander can also limit independence and may require safety monitoring or assisted living.
Average Cost of Care for Alzheimer’s
- Medical alert monitoring system: $30 monthly
- At-home healthcare services: $4,800 monthly
- Assisted living residency for Alzheimer’s: $4,000 to $10,000 monthly
- Shared room in a nursing home: $268 per day or $97,747 yearly
- Private room in a nursing home: $306 per day or $111,657 yearly
Depending on the stage of the disease, a person suffering from cognitive decline may need to move to an assisted living facility or hire a healthcare professional at home. On average, Alzheimer’s home care can cost $16 to $30 per hour or $4,800 monthly for 40 hours per week.
Medical alert devices provide an alternate, more affordable option for monitoring the safety and location of someone who wanders. Individuals wear portable devices with GPS tracking. If the person wanders outside of the home, a loved one can learn of their whereabouts. Medical alert systems typically charge a monthly monitoring fee of around $30 per month, which may or not include fees for devices and equipment.
Specialized Alzheimer’s housing, sometimes called memory care residences, dementia care facilities, or Alzheimer’s care units, can provide safety monitoring and protection for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Assisted living facilities for Alzheimer’s patients can help monitor safety while also giving individuals the independence of living in a private residence. These facilities may have specialized features such as door locks, security guards, or electronic location monitoring.
The costs of an Alzheimer’s facility vary depending on where you live. In the United States, the costs of standard assisted or senior living ranged between $2,844 to $9,266 monthly, with the national average being $4,000 monthly. However, the costs for Alzheimer’s care at an assisted living community can add an extra $1,000 monthly on average.
Those with severe symptoms may require more medical attention than a standard assisted living facility, such as a nursing home equipped to provide medical assistance to those with Alzheimer’s. On average, a private room in a nursing home costs $306 per day or $111,657 per year.
Sharing a room can reduce the price by as much as 80% to 90%. As of 2022, the US national average for a shared room in a nursing home cost $268 per day or $97,747 per year. However, those with more aggressive forms of Alzheimer’s may not have the option to share a room.
Alzheimer’s Care in the Healthcare System
The cost of Alzheimer’s has become an increasing burden on the healthcare system expected to grow. As of early 2020, 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease. The number of Americans aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase dramatically, and the number of patients with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase by 1 million new cases each year by 2050.
If nothing changes, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will triple by 2050 to 13.8 million, costing the government an estimated $800 billion annually.
In the US, Medicare and Medicaid provide health coverage for adults 65+ or under 65 with a disability. These government healthcare programs bear the brunt of the costs of Alzheimer’s in American society.
In 2021, Alzheimer’s disease cost Medicare and Medicaid an estimated $239 billion. As the population ages, the annual cost of Alzheimer’s on the US government healthcare is expected to increase to close to $800 billion annually.
The number of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia treated in managed care organizations (MCOs) continues to grow, which puts an additional financial burden on American families and the healthcare system.
A Future Without Alzheimer’s?
Any case of Alzheimer’s is a tragedy. However, there is hope. There are steps we can take now to protect memory and brain health.
Leading neurologist Dr. Dale Bredesen has spent the last three decades trying to understand Alzheimer’s disease, its causes, and potential treatments. Through his research and experience working directly with Alzheimer’s patients, he concludes that Alzheimer’s can be a rare disease—if people take the right steps.
Dr. Bredesen recognizes that effective diagnosis and customized treatment may help treat and even reverse the disease. He recommends a cognoscopy as the first step. This series of tests screen for early signs of Alzheimer’s and provide the blueprint for preventing the disease. Learn more about a cognoscopy and how it can greatly lower your risk of cognitive decline.