One of the Many Costs of Aging

The frailty and degenerations of aging impose enormous costs on sufferers and those who assist them - one of many reasons to accelerate work on repairing the biochemical damage that causes aging: "Nearly 15 million people in the United States take care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, amounting to 17 billion hours or more than $202 billion in unpaid care ... If these caregivers all lived in one U.S. state, it would be the nation's fifth largest, according to the Alzheimer's Association's 2011 annual report on the disease. The report illustrates the growing burden of Alzheimer's disease, a fatal brain-wasting disease that erodes memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to handle daily activities. Alzheimer's affects more than 26 million people globally and can stretch on for years, slowly robbing patients of their mind and memories. And there are currently no drugs that can keep the disease from progressing. ... The group estimates that 5.4 million people in the United States are now living with Alzheimer's disease, up from 5.3 million a year ago. That includes 5.2 million people over age 65 or about one in eight senior citizens. A 65-year-old person diagnosed with Alzheimer's typically lives four to eight years after being diagnosed, but some patients live as long as 20 years after diagnosis. ... The $202 billion in unpaid care is on top of the $183 billion estimate for Alzheimer's care expected to be delivered in 2011 by healthcare workers in homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities."



Are you aware of an economic analysis of the cost of ageing? I recall curing cancer would add 3 years to the average life expectancy of an American.

To really know how much ageing costs us, even under conservative assumptions of lifespans no greater than 130 years, would be very useful. It's the kind of number that one can use to influence friends. Like we could wow them with, "Under certain assumptions, one would be twice as rich if the average lifespan was 150 years and there were little to no debilitating diseases).

They say they spend their free time helping out at the soup kitchen (which is a good thing to do) but instead us rationalist folk get together and figure out the opportunity cost of not having cured (or at least delayed) ageing.

Posted by: Matthew Fuller at March 15th, 2011 9:28 AM

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