The personal economic burden of dementia in Europe

Linus Jönsson

Dementia is a syndrome characterized by progressive cognitive and functional impairment, most commonly caused by Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular disorders. Costs of care increase dramatically with progressing disease severity, and increasing dementia prevalence due to ageing populations is raising concerns about the sustainability of future costs of dementia care. A new study shows that social welfare systems in Europe cover most of the direct costs of dementia, however they do not protect families and households against the burden of informal care. Meier and colleagues1 set out to calculate the economic costs of dementia in 11 European countries, by combining microdata from a population-based survey with estimates of dementia prevalence. Data for Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden was obtained from six waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The survey captured out-of-pocket expenditures for health and social care as well as unpaid informal care. Costs attributable to dementia were estimated using linear regression, controlling for comorbidities and demographic factors. Finally, costs were combined with prevalence estimates to calculate the annual cost of dementia by country.