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Dementia: Alzheimer's disease 

Dementia: Alzheimer's disease
Chapter:
Dementia: Alzheimer's disease
Author(s):

Simon Lovestone

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199696758.003.0042
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date: 25 August 2019

Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other dementias incur huge costs to society, to the families of those affected, and to the individuals themselves. Costs to society include both direct costs to health and social services and indirect economic costs in terms of lost productivity, as carers are taken out of the workplace, and the economic costs to those families caring for or funding the care of their relative. Increasingly, as treatments become available, these costs are targets for change and are part of the cost–benefit analysis of new compounds, especially the largest single direct cost, that of the provision of nursing and other forms of continuing care. Apart from the financial cost to families there is the emotional impact resulting in distress and psychiatric morbidity. As the population ages, these costs pose substantial social and economic problems. Although lifespan itself has remained static, the numbers of elderly in both developed and developing societies is increasing rapidly. In the developed world the sharpest projected growth is in the very elderly cohort—precisely the one that is at most risk of AD. Within the developing world, the total number of elderly people is projected to rise substantially, reflecting to a large part better child health and nutrition. For countries in South America and Asia, with large and growing populations, the costs involved in caring for people with dementia in the future will become an increasing burden on health and social services budgets. In the absence of such services families will inevitably shoulder the main part of providing care, although the very process of development is associated with increasing urbanization and, to some degree, a diminution of the security provided by extended family structures.

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