Alzheimer disease (AD) has a drastic effect on the lives of those affected by the disease. Surprisingly little research has studied the personal and social consequences for AD patients. Many appear to go through six stages of change as the disease progresses, but any individual's path through the disease may vary substantially. AD also has a drastic effect on family members who serve as caregivers for people with the disease. These effects are much more studied and better documented. The burdens and, in some cases, benefits of the caregiver role differ from person to person. Race and ethnicity are among the variables that seem to play a role in the caregiver's response. The economic costs of AD are considerable, both for 'formal' services, paid for in the money economy, and 'informal' services, provided without monetary payment. The direct costs, both formal and informal, are largely, but not entirely, borne by the patient and the patient's family. The overall costs to society clearly amount to scores of billions of dollars.
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