The Cost of Living Crisis is Leading Many Dementia Patients to Cut Back on Care

As the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so did inflation. By mid-2022 in the United States, the annual inflation rate was at 8.6%, the highest it had been since 1981. Impacts of this cost of living crisis were being felt across the world, though, with consumer prices rising significantly in nearly all advanced economies. In times like this, many families find themselves cutting back. For dementia patients and their families, that may have included cutting back on care.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool recently investigated how common it was for dementia patients to reduce their use of social care and support services due to cost. The findings, published in the journal Aging and Mental Health, were based off of the results of a survey conducted in the fall of 2022 by the Alzheimer’s Society. About a fifth of respondents reported cutting back on social care in order to save money.


Dr. Clarissa Giebel, lead researcher and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Population Health, says, “This latest analysis illustrates that if people with dementia fail to access these services, they are more likely to deteriorate faster and enter residential long-term care, which is less affordable than community-based care and the heaviest cost factor of the dementia trajectory. In addition, without the social care support to keep well and independent at home, people are more likely to utilise health care services and reach crisis point with their health.”

To understand how prevalent issues with health care affordability had become, an online survey was conducted in October 2022 among people with dementia, their caregivers, and people who knew someone with dementia. The survey covered topics including social care and support service access, the cost of living crisis, and changes made due to that crisis. Respondents were from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In all, nearly 1,100 people responded to the survey, with 745 dementia patients utilizing community-based social care and support services. Among them, 20% had reduced their spending on care services since the cost of living crisis began. Men and non-white respondents were found to be most impacted by these cutbacks.


Of this struggle and the disparities involved, Tim Beanland, Head of Knowledge at Alzheimer’s Society, says, “The rising cost of living is putting people with dementia in impossible situations – and facing potential hikes of over a thousand pounds a year for essential care. Something has to give. It’s particularly worrying to see the extra risk people with dementia from non-white ethnic communities face, who we know are already struggling to get a diagnosis and access culturally-appropriate care.”

In addition to the issues affording care, one in four households that responded had struggled to pay utility bills, one in five had had issues paying for food, and about one in six said they had difficulties paying for social care services.

The team says their findings show that the cost of living crisis has worsened inequalities in accessing and using dementia care. They add that men and non-white patients need to receive more support in this regard.

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