How Much Does Aging Cost You?

Healthy Life Extension

Funding Aging Research

How Much Does Aging Cost You?


Dear Future Centenarian,

We get hammered with two costs of aging. One is acutely felt. The other not so.

The most painful is the direct drain on our pocketbooks when we or a family member loses earning power “ or incurs sudden and often stratospheric medical expenses due to aging-related diseases or conditions.

Let's explore this one first:

Over 30% of people over 80 get Alzheimer's. It's close to 50% by 85. Reason, editor at gives some figures from a recent paper on dementia in the US:

"The yearly monetary cost per person that was attributable to dementia was either $56,290 (95% confidence interval [CI], $42,746 to $69,834) or $41,689 (95% CI, $31,017 to $52,362), depending on the method used to value informal care."

However, these figures are based on "informal care." How about when you factor in full-time home caregivers or formal nursing home costs? I'm familiar with both, since I lost my dad to Alzheimer's. I was lucky enough to keep him home, looked after 24 hours a day by a loving couple. But I saw some nursing home cost figures years ago, and they were astronomical.

How about lost income due to aging?

Reason dug up figures for that as well. He found that median income sits somewhere a little under $40,000/year in the prime earning years of life. It tapers off to a little more than half of that for surviving members of the 75 (median) and older demographic who have not yet become demented.

So while one of seven completely median older people incurs costs of roughly $40,000/year for dementia, all seven completely median older people suffer an opportunity cost of roughly $20,000/year as a result of becoming old. A range of income that might have been earned if still healthy and vigorous is no longer within reach.

Then add other direct medical costs for the rest of the population - cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and the other common foes - the opportunity costs of being old still look sizable in comparison.

Then how about the cost to society? We don't notice that so much, because governments camouflage our individual costs through taxation spread over the whole population, Medicare costs and inflationary measures which sweep costs under the rug while steadily eroding your purchasing power.

The total monetary cost of dementia alone in 2010 was between $157 billion and $215 billion. When you factor in heart disease and cancer, we're up to around $600 billion a year.

It would take more research to factor in lost wages and all the other aging-related diseases and conditions medical expenses. Arthritis, diabetes, pneumonia, etc, etc. Then when one dies, that spells the end of all future earning power, not to mention the indirect costs when their wisdom, innovation knowledge and experience suddenly evaporate.

As Reason again points out, aging causes a largely unseen cost to go along with what is seen, the cost of what might have been but for disability and death.

The cost of research and development to build the means of rejuvenation is tiny in comparison to what is lost to aging - and also in comparison to what is spent in coping with the aftermath of loss rather than trying to prevent it.

More Life,
David Kekich


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