Kenneth Langa

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia now cost the United States more than either cancer or heart disease, according to a new RAND Corp. study. The study, described in an April 3 Associated Press story, looked at the cost of drugs and medical interventions to treat dementia and at the care that Alzheimer’s patients require. The result: the direct costs of dementia are $109 billion annually in 2010 dollars, and indirect costs—such as family care at home—push the price to families and society to $157 billion to $215 billion a year. Unlike prior studies, the RAND research managed to separate the costs of dementia care from other health care expenses, “an important difference,” according to ISR researcher Kenneth Langa, an author of the study. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, now affects about 4.1 million Americans, according to the study. The prevalence and cost of dementia will only increase in the future as the country’s population ages, study authors said, making it ever more critical to prevent Alzheimer’s or to lessen its impact.