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New report reveals global cost of Alzheimer's, dementias tops $600 billion

The total estimated worldwide costs of dementia are $604 billion in 2010, according to the newly released World Alzheimer Report 2010: The Global Economic Impact of Dementia from Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), a London-based, nonprofit, international federation of 73 national Alzheimer organizations, including the Alzheimer's Association (U.S.).

Released on World Alzheimer's Day, September 21, the report found that:

Dementia care costs around 1% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

If dementia care were a country, it would be the world's 18th largest economy (ranking between Turkey and Indonesia).

If dementia care was a company, it would be the world's largest by annual revenue, exceeding Wal-Mart ($414 billion) and Exxon Mobil ($311 billion).

By 2030, worldwide societal costs will increase by 85% (a very conservative estimate considering only increases in the number of people with dementia).

Worldwide, the costs of dementia are set to soar.

The Report finds that costs in low and middle income countries are likely to rise much faster than in high income countries, because, with economic development, costs will increase towards levels seen in high income countries, and because increases in numbers of people with dementia will be much sharper in those regions.

In the Report, costs were attributed to the direct costs of medical care (the costs of treating dementia and other conditions in primary and secondary care), direct costs of social care (provided in residential care settings and by community care professionals), and informal care (unpaid care provided by family caregivers and others).

"Alzheimer's is a significant threat not only for the nation - but also for the people of Minnesota, said Mary Birchard, the executive director of the Alzheimer's Association's Minnesota-North Dakota. Currently, over 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, including 97,760 in Minnesota alone.

"Early detection, diagnosis and intervention are vital because they provide individuals the best opportunities for treatment, support and planning for their future," said Birchard "We know many families miss the warning signs or mistakenly assume symptoms are a normal part of aging. The Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter has worked hard to educate our community about those signs that may actually be cause for concern and the benefits to living well with Alzheimer's."

The Association is working to enact critical legislation to address these issues. The National Alzheimer's Project Act (S.3036/H.R.4689) would create a National Alzheimer's Project Office and an inter-agency Advisory Council responsible for developing a national plan to overcome the Alzheimer crisis. This new office would provide strategic planning and coordination for the fight against Alzheimer's across the federal government as a whole, touching on issues from research to care to support, at no additional cost to the government. (Note: see attached fact sheet.)

"In Minnesota, we are working on a report to be out in January, that includes a call to action to support Alzheimer's legislation locally," said Birchard.

This summer, the Alzheimer's Association and the Alzheimer's research community have been working - and cycling - together to do just that. The Alzheimer's Association Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride was originally conceived by Alzheimer researcher Bruce Lamb, PhD, of the Department of Neurosciences at the Lerner Research Institutes of the Cleveland Clinic and the Departments of Neurosciences and Genetics at Case Western Reserve University, who shared the idea with the Alzheimer's Association and then enlisted the participation of researchers and scientists from across the country.