Background: The aim of this report was to estimate the worldwide cost of dementia in 2005 from a societal viewpoint.
Methods: Costs were estimated by combining prevalence estimates, country and region specific data on Gross Domestic Product per person, and average wage with results from previously published cost-of-illness studies in different countries. Direct medical and nonmedical costs as well as costs for informal care were included.
Results: The total worldwide societal cost of dementia, on the basis of a dementia population of 29.3 million persons, was estimated to be US$315.4 billion in 2005, including US$105 billion for informal care (33%). Seventy-seven percent of the total costs occurred in the more developed regions, with 46% of the prevalence.
Conclusions: Worldwide costs for dementia are enormous, and informal care constitutes a major cost component, in particular in less developed regions. The health economics of dementia is a highly relevant area for further research.