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Dementia care bills can reach £51,000 a year as families warned of 'crisis point'

Families are being forced to give up the equivalent of £51,000 a year – possibly more – to look after a loved one with dementia, according to new research.

Analysis shows the cost of dealing with the disease has already reached £42billion a year.

And it is predicted to double in the next 15 years to £90billion.

The figures come from the Alzheimer’s Society which is urging the Government to make dementia a priority so patients can have their symptoms assessed earlier and offered treatment.

It argues this would help families avoid reaching a “costly, avoidable crisis point”.

Only 1.4 percent of dementia healthcare costs are spent on diagnosis and treatment despite the condition accounting for one in ten deaths in Britain.

Meanwhile, families shoulder 63 percent of the cost, largely by providing hundreds of hours of unpaid care each week.

There are also costs in terms of household bills, transport and legal bills.

The Alzheimer’s Society commissioned consultants Carnall Farrar to conduct one of the largest UK studies on the economic impact of dementia.

Researchers analysed the medical records of 26,000 people dating back seven years.

This revealed the cost of dementia is an average of £51,000 a year. It rises as the disease progresses from £29,000 a year for mild cases to £81,000 when it is severe.

Most costs come from social care and unpaid care. Around £7billion a year goes on dementia-related healthcare costs, including A&E admissions.

Almost one million people are living with the condition in the UK yet it is estimated that a third of people affected have not received a diagnosis.

The number is predicted to rise by 43 percent by 2040, with more people expected to care for a loved one with the disease.

The Alzheimer’s Society says this is a ‘major concern’ when a third of unpaid carers already devote more than 100 hours a week to looking after a loved one and 16 per cent had to give up work to do this.

Chief executive Kate Lee said: “It’s the biggest health and care issue of our time yet it isn’t the priority it should be among decision-makers.

“Dementia’s impact is colossal – on the lives of those it affects,  the health system and the economy.”

Actor Vicky McClure, an ambassador for charity, said: “People showing signs of dementia, those now living with the condition and the people that love and care for them are being forgotten – it has become the UK’s forgotten crisis despite dementia being the UK’s biggest killer.

“I’ve seen firsthand the challenges families face before and after a diagnosis and having supported Alzheimer’s Society to push for change for many years, it breaks my heart that we’re stuck in the same place with hundreds of thousands of people still undiagnosed.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We’re working to identify and treat more people and provide potential new treatments as they become available.

“We’re also doubling funding for dementia research to £160million a year by the end of 2024-25.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “Diagnosis rates are the highest for three years, thanks to NHS staff, who have worked hard to recover services following the pandemic when people were less likely to come forward for care.”

Where the bills fall

The majority of the cost of dementia to the UK is currently being paid by people with dementia and their families, either in unpaid care, or in paying for private social care.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s study found that relatives are shouldering 63 percent of all dementia costs.

This includes the cost of giving up jobs to care for relatives and the value of the hours of unpaid care that friends and loved ones carry out as well as the actual eye-watering costs of nursing homes or at-home carers.


What happens if you don’t have enough money?

People with dementia, or their relatives, can apply for financial support to pay for the costs of care from their local authority, and a financial assessment is carried out.

Currently, if a financial assessment finds the dementia patient’s assets and wealth amount to £23,250 or more, they will be expected to pay for all of their own care costs.

If they have less than £23,250 – either in assets or wealth – then the local authority may contribute towards care fees, beyond what the person with dementia can afford from their own income.


Do you have to sell your property?

If the person with dementia is receiving care at home, the value of the person’s home is not counted in their financial assessment.

If the person is moved into a care home, but owns their own house, the cost of their house may be included in the financial assessment – which could see people forced to sell their house in order to fund their care home care.

If a patient’s husband, wife, or partner, or their dependent child, is still living at the home, then the cost of it is not taken into account in a financial assessment.


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