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March 15, 2011

Alzheimer's in U.S. claims $202 billion in unpaid care

Nearly 15 million people in the United States take care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, amounting to 17 billion hours or more than $202 billion in unpaid care

Alzheimer's affects more than 26 million people globally and can stretch on for years, slowly robbing patients of their mind and memories.


The new report shows a 37 percent increase in Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers compared with a year ago, but much of that increase is because the year-ago figure had been based on nine-year-old estimates.

The $202 billion in unpaid care is on top of the $183 billion estimate for Alzheimer's care expected to be delivered in 2011 by healthcare workers in homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities, an increase of $11 billion over a year ago.

Medicare and Medicaid, the federal insurance programs for the elderly and poor, cover about 70 percent of these costs.

Thies said Alzheimer's patients on Medicare cost three times more than other patients, largely because they spend more time in hospitals and nursing homes.

By 2050, Medicare costs for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias will increase nearly 600 percent and Medicaid costs will soar almost 400 percent.

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