Background: There is no previous information about economic costs of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in South America. The objective of this study was to evaluate the costs of AD in Argentina.
Methods: Eighty community-dwelling patients, 20 institutionalized AD patients and their respective primary caregivers, and 25 healthy elderly subjects participated in this study. The cognitive and neuropsychiatric impairments and severity of dementia were assessed with the Mini-mental State Examination, Neuropsychiatric Inventory and Clinical Dementia Rating, respectively. A structured interview about health and health-care resources used during the past 3 months was administered to family caregivers. The time devoted by carers to looking after the patients and the caregiver burden (Zarit's Burden Interview) were recorded.
Results: The annual direct costs of the disease increased with cognitive deterioration from US$3420.40 in mild to US$9657.60 in severe AD, and with institutionalization (US$3189.20 outpatient vs. US$14,447.68 institutionalized). Most direct costs were paid for by the family.
Conclusions: With the projected increase in the number of persons at risk for developing AD in emerging countries, the family cost of the disease will be significant. Dementia costs should be a matter of analysis when health policies are being designed in developing countries.