Dementia costs

MTC Dementia coverRapid ageing worldwide means not only many more people with dementia, and the personal and social challenges associated, but also economic challenges for families and health and care systems.

Research by the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has explored these economic challenges and future possibilities. One strand of work calculated treatment and support costs and projected them over future decades. Other studies examined the cost-effectiveness of interventions such as Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST), medications, and support for unpaid or family carers.

After the first ever international summit on dementia, organised by the G8 countries in London in 2013, the Department of Health for England commissioned further work from the LSE to feed into governmental and international discussions, including at the newly established World Dementia Council. Professor Martin Knapp FAcSS and his colleagues were asked to quantify current and expected economic impacts of dementia, and to estimate costs and quality of life outcomes under different care and support scenarios.

They found that the best evidence- based interventions known today could considerably improve the lives of people with dementia and also of their unpaid carers. However this would make little difference to overall dementia costs, which would probably only be significantly reduced by slowing the progression of the underlying disease or delaying its onset, whether by medical interventions or widespread behaviour and lifestyle change.

The findings fed into development of the new national dementia policy (Prime Minister’s Challenge on  Dementia 2020), the OECD’s report on dementia and care (Addressing Dementia), and deliberations at the first World Health Organisation Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia.

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