Dementia's Crippling Effect on the Canadian Economy

The global cost of caring for the 35.6 million people worldwide with dementia is $604-billion - equivalent to the revenues of Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil combined - as it is fast becoming one of the world's biggest health challenges. Its prevalence will increase at an "alarming rate" for at least 40 more years according to a study by Alzheimer's Disease International, a London-based consumer group. By 2030, the report estimates that the number of people with dementia will nearly double to 65.7-million with annual global costs totalling $1.1 trillion (US). In Canada, dementia costs the economy about $15-billion a year and is expected to grow to $153-billion by 2038 while case will jump from 500,000 to 1.1 million.

"The figures are cause for great concern, and we hope that this report will act as a call to action for governments and policy-makers across the world. It is vital theat they recognize that the cost of dementia will continue to increase... and we must work to improve care and support services." -- Marc Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer's Disease International
Currently, the cost of caring for dementia is split between direct medical care ($96-billion), residential and nursing care ($255-billion) and unpaid labour by family caregviers ($253-billion). The costs of dementia equal roughly the economies of Turkey and Indonesia making it the world's 18th largest.

Dementia affects developed and developing countries alike however there is a stark discrepancy in costs between high- and low-income countries. The average cost of caring for a person with dementia in a high-income country like Canada is $32,865 annually compared to $868 for a low-income country like Bangladesh. Low-income countries which account for 14% of global dementia cases make up only 1% of the costs whereas high-income countries have 46% of the cases and 89% of the costs. A major difference is the lack of accessibility to professional medical and nursing care in low-income families where the burden typically falls on family members. This is expected to become a serious problem for developing countries where dementia is expected to grow at a faster rate than developed countries. For example, in the next 20 years dementia cases are expected to increase 63% in North America compared to 117% in East Asia and 146% in Latin America.

The report recommends developing a national strategy to deal with dementia with policies that explicitly focus on supporting family caregivers and to reorganize health systems so that they better meet the needs of patients with chronic conditions such as dementia.

Source: Picard, Andre. "'Alarming' Rise in Dementia Comes with a Crippling Price Tag." Globe and Mail. 21 Sept. 2010. A1-A2

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

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