Dementing illnesses take a huge personal toll on affected individuals and their families. Dementia is also widely recognized to have massive financial impact. Dementia costs almost $300 billion per year in the U.S., according to current estimates. 

But recent data suggests the cost of dementia is significantly underestimated.

Hidden costs of dementia

Today, calculating the cost of dementia includes direct costs, like healthcare and paid personal care, and indirect costs, such as informal care provided by family members, reduced productivity for caregivers, and a diminished quality of life.

Recent analysis published in ScienceDaily, however, suggests that this figure is the “tip of the iceberg,” because it doesn’t account for the many hidden costs related to dementia. 

The authors of the economic analysis suggest that depression, anxiety, and other stress-related conditions in caregivers have their own direct and indirect costs. 

Families are often forced to use savings or cut back on other spending in order to support a family member. And since dementia is often not identified until the condition has progressed, medical spending to rule out other illnesses or to manage comorbid conditions that are worsened by cognitive impairment also becomes a factor. 

Dementia’s effect on financial literacy

Similarly, Duke University researchers carried out a longitudinal study relating imaging measurement of amyloid plaque buildup to financial management abilities. 

The researchers indicate even early stage cognitive impairment can create subtle problems in financial management. These problems included understanding of financial concepts and accurately calculating account balances. Such changes can result in more vulnerability to scams and fraud in elderly individuals — especially since they have the highest net worth of any age group. 

Helping families through early detection

While we await positive news on medications and vaccines for dementing diseases, early detection and interventions to address modifiable risk factors are the go-to approaches. 

Comprehensive cognitive health solutions, such as BrainCheck, can help primary care physicians and neurologists support patients and their families. Recognizing cognitive impairment sooner and developing an appropriate cognitive care plan could slow the progression of dementia, which could potentially help mitigate the financial impacts.

Find out more about the science behind BrainCheck

Want to know more about how BrainCheck helps primary care physicians and neurologists assess cognitive impairment? Check out the science behind our computerized cognitive assessment aid.

 

References: 

  1. “Analysis reveals economic cost of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are ‘tip of the iceberg.’” ScienceDaily, 30 July 2019.
  2. El-Hayek Y et al, “Tip of the Iceberg: Assessing the Global Socioeconomic Costs of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias and Strategic Implications for Stakeholders.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2019; 70 (2): 321 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-190426
  3. “As Plaque Deposits Increase in the Aging Brain, Money Management Falters: Trouble with simple financial tasks may be early sign of dementias such as Alzheimer’s.” Duke University School of Medicine. Web. https://medschool.duke.edu/about-us/news-and-communications/med-school-blog/plaque-deposits-increase-aging-brain-money-management-falters
  4. S. Tolbert ; Y. Liu ; C. Hellegers ; J.R. Petrella ; M.W. Weiner ; T.Z. Wong ; P. Murali Doraiswamy ; for the ADNI Study Group. “Financial Management Skills in Aging, MCI and Dementia: Cross Sectional Relationship to 18F-Florbetapir PET Cortical β-amyloid Deposition.” The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2019 DOI: 10.14283/jpad.2019.26

 


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About the author

Robert Cuyler, PhD


Robert Cuyler is a clinical psychologist with decades of clinical, management and consulting experience. He is a Clinical Advisor at BrainCheck and the chief clinical officer of Palo Alto Health Sciences. He previously served as the CEO of JSA Health Telepsychiatry and clinical advisor to MDLive/Breakthrough Behavioral. Dr. Cuyler received his Ph.D. in psychology from Louisiana State University and his postdoctoral fellowship from the Menninger Foundation.

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