Dementia could cost Canada $835 billion: report

Mon Jan 4, 2010 3:26pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadians are developing dementia at such a rapid rate that dealing with the problem will cost a total of more than C$870 billion ($835 billion) over the next 30 years unless preventive measures are taken, a report released on Monday said.

Canada's Alzheimer Society said more than 103,700 people developed dementia in 2008 in Canada, a country of around 33 million. By 2038, 257,800 new cases per year are expected, with almost 3 percent of the population affected.

"If we do nothing, dementia will have a crippling effect on Canadian families, our health care system and economy," said the report, entitled Rising Tide. "It is the most significant cause of disability among Canadians over the age of 65."

Dementia such as Alzheimer's are progressive, degenerative diseases that destroy vital brain cells. There is no cure and are few treatments, although drugs can relieve some of the symptoms for a while.

An international report issued in September said more than 35 million people globally would suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia in 2010. By 2030, the number would be almost 66 million.

In 2005, a study from Sweden's Karolinska Institute estimated dementia cost global economies $315 billion a year.

David Harvey, spokesman for Rising Tide, said the Canadian campaign against dementia is hampered by the peculiarities of the country's health care system, which is partly funded the federal government but administered by provincial governments.

"This problem is already with us but over the period of this generation it is going to be very significant. And if we don't address it can overwhelm things like emergency rooms and hospitals," he said.   Continued...