Data from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) were used to examine the relation between severity of Alzheimer's disease, as measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and costs of caring.
The CSHA was a community-based survey of the prevalence of dementia, including subtypes such as Alzheimer's disease, among elderly Canadians. Survey subjects with a diagnosis of possible or probable Alzheimer's disease were grouped into disease severity levels of mild (MMSE score 21-26), mild to moderate (MMSE score 15-20), moderate (MMSE score 10-14) and severe (MMSE score below 10). Components of care available from the CSHA were use of nursing home care, use of medications, use of community support services by caregivers and unpaid caregiver time. Costs were calculated from a societal perspective and are expressed in 1996 Canadian dollars.
The annual societal cost of care per patient increased significantly with severity of Alzheimer's disease. The cost per patient was estimated to be $9451 for mild disease, $16,054 for mild to moderate disease, $25,724 for moderate disease and $36,794 for severe disease. Institutionalization was the largest component of cost, accounting for as much as 84% of the cost for people with severe disease. For subjects living in the community, unpaid caregiver time and use of community services were the greatest components of cost and increased with disease severity.
The societal cost of care of Alzheimer's disease increases drastically with increasing disease severity. Institutionalization is responsible for the largest cost component.