Determinants of costs of care for patients with Alzheimer's disease

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Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia, is a major cause of disability and care burden in the elderly. This study aims to estimate the costs of formal and informal care and identity determinants of care costs.

Materials and methods

Two hundred and seventy-two (AD) patients and their caregivers were recruited among patients attending regular visits at six memory clinic in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Patients with a diagnosis of AD and with an identifiable primary caregiver were eligible for inclusion. Data was collected by questionnaires at baseline, and at scheduled follow-up visits after 6 months and again after 12 months. Cognitive function was assessed with the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and behavioural disturbances were measured using a brief version of the neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI).


Total annual costs were on average 172 000 SEK, ranging from 60 700 SEK in mild dementia to 375 000 SEK in severe dementia. Costs for community care (special accommodation, home help, etc.) constituted about half of total costs of care and increase sharply with increasing cognitive impairment. Informal care costs, valued at the opportunity cost of the caregiver's time, make up about a third of total costs and also increased significantly with disease severity. Medical care costs (inpatient care, outpatient care, pharmaceuticals), on the other hand, were not significantly related to disease severity. Regression analysis confirmed a strong association between costs and cognitive function, between patients as well as within patients over time. There was also a significant influence on costs from behavioural disturbances. Sensitivity analysis showed that the method chosen to value informal care can have considerable impact on results.


Costs of care in patient with AD are high and related to dementia severity as well as presence of behavioural disturbances. The cost estimates presented have implications for future economic evaluation of treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

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