A new report recently released finds that African Americans bear more than one-third of the nation’s costs of Alzheimer’s and dementia care, although they make up less than 14 percent of the population.
The costs for African-Americans in 2012 were nearly $71.6 billion, out of total national costs of $210 billion.
Health economists at Johns Hopkins University authored the report for the African-American Network AgainstAlzheimer’s, launched recently by the USAgainstAlzheimer’s Network the national community of engaged individuals committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020 to unite and mobilize African Americans to speed the pace of research and build the movement to end Alzheimer’s.
Other findings from the report include:
- Nearly half of Alzheimer’s costs to African Americans are concentrated in Southern states.
- Nearly 61 percent of costs ($43.6 billion) are for informal caregiving; other costs are nursing home care ($14.6 billion), lost productivity/wages for those aged 40-64 with Alzheimer’s/dementia ($6.1 billion), and medical costs ($5.5 billion).
- As with other racial/ethnic groups, Medicare is the primary payer for medical costs (59%) and Medicaid for nursing homes, adult day care and assisted living (54%). African-American families pay more than $3.45 billion out-of-pocket for these costs of care.
“The economic burden of Alzheimer’s on African Americans is stunning. The size of the burden is due to the greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s in this population,” said the report’s lead author Darrell Gaskin, PhD, deputy director, Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “With the growing number of African Americans over age 75, the prospect of more than one in three older African Americans with cognitive impairment will overwhelm families and our society.”
African Americans are two to three times more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to develop Alzheimer’s — the nation’s sixth leading cause of death but the fourth leading cause for older African Americans. Racial differences in genetic risk factors do not account fully for these disparities.
“Alzheimer’s is one of the greatest public health challenges faced by the African-American community and will become a much greater burden if we fail to act now,” said former Surgeon General David Satcher, “A strong investment now in prevention research could ward off most cases of Alzheimer’s by 2020 and change the trajectory of this disease and its insupportable burden on the African-American community and our nation as a whole.”