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Health Care Costs for Patients With Dementia at the End of Life FREE

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This article was published online first at www.annals.org on 27 October 2015.

The full report is titled “The Burden of Health Care Costs for Patients With Dementia in the Last 5 Years of Life.” It is in the 17 November 2015 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 163, pages 729-736). The authors are A.S. Kelley, K. McGarry, R. Gorges, and J.S. Skinner.

Summaries for Patients are a service provided by Annals to help patients better understand the complicated and often mystifying language of modern medicine.

Summaries for Patients are presented for informational purposes only. These summaries are not a substitute for advice from your own medical provider. If you have questions about this material, or need medical advice about your own health or situation, please contact your physician. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the American College of Physicians.

Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(10):I-28. doi:10.7326/P15-9035
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27 102015.

What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Previous studies have measured what it costs society to provide end-of-life medical care, including the cost for specific conditions, such as dementia.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

Previous studies have not measured what it costs patients' families to provide end-of-life medical care.

Who was studied?

People aged 70 years or older who died between 2005 and 2010.

How was the study done?

Study participants had previously enrolled in an ongoing study that collects information from a representative sample of U.S. residents about total and out-of-pocket spending for medical care, insurance coverage, socioeconomic status, health status, and cause of death.

What did the researchers find?

The average total cost of end-of-life medical care for patients with dementia was higher than that for patients who died from heart disease, cancer, or other causes. Also, out-of-pocket spending for patients with dementia was a greater proportion of family resources than for those who died from other causes, especially for patients who were black, persons who had less than a high school education, and unmarried or widowed women.

What were the limitations of the study?

The researchers had to estimate some costs.

What are the implications of the study?

The families of patients who die with dementia have more expenses than other families, and the burden is concentrated on families that are least able to manage it.





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