Prevalence and costs

Up-to-date estimates of the current and future prevalence of dementia and of the costs of dementia are needed for policymaking and planning and these are available for both NI and ROI. Estimates of the numbers of people with dementia are made by applying dementia prevalence rates (the proportion of people affected) to the numbers of people in a given population. Dementia prevalence rates are obtained from population-based epidemiological surveys. Meta-analysed figures were applied in both jurisdictions and the reports summarised below explain the methodology used. The Dementia UK Update (2014) also includes updated costs of dementia in the UK, but could not estimate costs separately for the different regions of the UK since the requisite disaggregated data were not available for each country. 

Dementia UK Update

Prince, M, Knapp, M, Guerchet, M, McCrone, P, Prina, M, Comas-Herrera, A, Wittenberg, R, Adelaja, B, Hu, B, King, D, Rehill, A, Salimkumar, D.
Alzheimer’s Society (UK)

This report published by the Alzheimer’s Society (UK) provides an update to the figures provided on the prevalence and costs of dementia in the UK in the 2007 report of the same name.

An Expert Delphi Consensus approach was taken to update dementia prevalence rates for Western Europe, which were then applied to UK population data. Health, social and unpaid care costs were calculated using a new version of a model of the costs and outcomes of dementia that builds on previous versions of the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) aggregate long-term care model (Wittenberg et al., 1998, 2001) and of the PSSRU dementia care model (Comas-Herrera et al., 2007). The report estimated that the total number of people with dementia in the UK in 2015 is 850,000 and is forecast to increase to 1 million by 2025. The total cost of dementia in the UK is estimated at £26.3 billion, with an average cost of £32,250 per person, comprising £4.3 billion spent on healthcare costs, £10.3 billion spent on social care (publicly and privately funded) and £11.6 billion contributed by the work of informal carers of people with dementia.

Dementia prevalence estimates for NI for the years 2010-2013 and 2021 are readily available on the Alzheimer’s Society (UK) website.    

Prevalence and Projections of Dementia in Ireland

PIERCE, M., CAHILL, S., O’Shea, E.

Providing estimates of dementia prevalence and projects was a key objective of the research review of dementia in ROI (Cahill et al., 2011a). However, the estimates reported in the review were based on the 2006 Census of Population.

Hence, a new Census of Population was conducted in 2011 and the 2006 estimates were updated in a new report for ROI. Applying the EuroCoDe dementia prevalence rates, it estimated that there were almost 48,000 people with dementia in 2011 and based on the most recent population projections, there could be as many as 90,000 people with dementia in ROI by 2031. Unlike the prevalence estimates for NI, this report provides an estimate of the number of women and men with dementia in ROI and points to the need for a gendered analysis to be taken to dementia.  

Dementia 2010: The Economic Burden of Dementia and Associated Research Funding in the UK

Alzheimer Research Trust
Alzheimer Research Trust

The Alzheimer Research Trust in the UK commissioned the Health Economics Research Centre at the University of Oxford to undertake this cost of illness study to evaluate using a societal perspective the combined costs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Overall, the study estimated the cost of dementia in 2008 to be £23 billion in terms of health and social care, informal care and productivity losses in 2008. Of these costs, 5% were attributed to healthcare, 40% to social care and 55% to informal care, with productivity losses accounting for less than 1% of total costs. The study also estimated the costs of cancer and compared the costs of dementia and cancer, dementia and coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. It estimated the costs of dementia to be the highest, followed by cancer, CHD and stroke, with the costs of dementia greater than the combined costs of cancer and CHD.  In addition, the study investigated the allocation of research funds by governmental organisations and charities in the UK. It found that despite the high economic cost of dementia, research funding is highly dominated by cancer followed a considerable way behind by CHD and offers some suggestions to explain the underfunding for dementia research.