BACKGROUND: Few studies on cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) have simultaneously considered multiple dimensions of disease costs and detailed clinical characteristics.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate empirically the incremental effects of patients' clinical characteristics on disease costs.
METHODS: Data are derived from the baseline visit of 180 patients in the Predictors Study, a large, multicenter cohort of patients with probable AD followed from early stages of the disease. All patients initially lived at home, in retirement homes, or in assisted living facilities. Costs of direct medical care included hospitalizations, outpatient treatment and procedures, assistive devices, and medications. Costs of direct nonmedical care included home health aides, respite care, and adult day care. Indirect costs were measured by caregiving time. Patients' clinical characteristics included cognitive status, functional capacity, psychotic symptoms, behavioral problems, depressive symptoms, extrapyramidal signs, comorbidities, and duration of illness.
RESULTS: A 1-point increase in the Blessed Dementia Rating Scale score was associated with a $1,411 increase in direct medical costs and a $2,718 increase in unpaid caregiving costs. Direct medical costs also were $3,777 higher among subjects with depressive symptoms than among those who were not depressed.
CONCLUSIONS: Medical care costs and unpaid caregiving costs relate differently to patients' clinical characteristics. Poorer functional status is associated with higher medical care costs and unpaid caregiving costs. Interventions may be particularly useful if targeted in the areas of basic and instrumental activities of daily living.