AGED CARE: Researchers reveal the true cost of dementia care.
AGED CARE: Researchers reveal the true cost of dementia care.

The true cost of dementia care revealed

THE cost of providing health and residential care in Australia  for people living with dementia is a staggering $80,000 per year.

The finding by Flinders University researchers is likely to have a significant impact on the Federal Government's decisions on dementia support services funding and on aged care service providers.

Lead author on the paper and co-researcher, Flinders University's Dr Emmanuel Gnanamanickam says that the increasing prevalence of dementia and the associated demand for aged care services has made future funding for these services a major government and societal priority.

"In Australia, it is estimated that over half of the permanent residents living in residential aged care have dementia," Dr Gnanamanickam said.

"The worldwide occurrence of dementia in 2010 was calculated at 35.6 million and is projected to increase to 115.4 million by 2050.

"In order to maintain an appropriate level of care for people living with dementia and understand true financial impact of dementia care, an accurate measure of the real costs is necessary.

"However it is important to note that our estimate is still conservative and does not take into account the cost of informal care and other indirect costs.

"Given that the majority of costs incurred by people living with dementia in residential care are borne by either the Australian or state governments, our findings are significant for informed, reliable policymaking," Dr Gnanamanickam added.

The study also examined the individual components of health and residential care costs incurred by people living with dementia. "We found that residential care accounted for nine per cent of the overall costs," Dr Gnanamanickam said.

"We also found that residential care costs were higher for those living with dementia compared to those not living with dementia, but that healthcare costs were lower among those living with dementia."

"Our research findings have considerable implications for future service planning within Australia's aged care sector," says senior researcher and co-author of the study, Dr Suzanne Dyer from Flinders University.

"Unlike previous evaluations, which have typically calculated costs by adopting an overarching 'top-down' perspective on the healthcare system, we have have taken a 'bottom-up' approach by looking at all the health and residential care costs incurred by a sample of individuals living with dementia.

"This has given us a realistic, per person estimate," Dr Dyer added.

The results of the study have been published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and form part of the INSPIRED project (Investigating Services Provided in the Residential Care Environment for Dementia) which is funded under the auspices of the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre.


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