Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, said formal long-term dementia care costs will escalate for baby boomers because they have fewer children available to provide unpaid, informal care.
The study, completed by the University of Michigan and the Rand Corp., said the cost of caring for those with dementia was comparable to, if not greater than, those for heart disease and cancer.
The researchers found the formal costs for nursing homes, Medicare and out-of-pocket expenses for direct care were estimated to be $109 billion in 2010.
Adding informal, unpaid care nearly doubled the estimated total national costs for dementia care.
The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, estimated full costs per case of dementia in 2010 at $41,000 to $56,000. The lower number accounts for foregone wages among caregivers, while the higher figure valued hours of informal care as the equivalent of formal paid care, the researchers said.
The range of national expenditures was tallied based on an estimated prevalence of dementia of 14.7 percent in the U.S. population age 70 and older.