Reducing the cost of dementia

27 May 2021

Article by Sabrina Lenzen, PhD student and economist at the Centre for Policy Development. 

Dementia is a costly syndrome.

An older man and woman on a beach.It costs the person affected their memories and ability to perform everyday activities. It costs their friends and family a loved one. And it costs the community the loss of a capable and independent member of society.

Indeed, dementia is categorised as one of the costliest diseases worldwide – even more so than cancer or heart disease – because of its long-term requirement for the ongoing care of those affected and because of the sheer number of people living with the condition, around 50 million worldwide. In 2015, the total societal cost of dementia was estimated at US$818 billion, or 1.1 per cent of global gross domestic product. These figures are only set to increase.

The World Health Organization recognises dementia as a public health priority, particularly as no cure, or therapy to slow its progress, is currently available.

But what if dementia could be prevented?

UQ PhD economics candidate in the School of Economics and Centre for Business and Economics of Health, and 3MT finalist Sabrina Lenzen believes this may be possible.

Through my research, I have proven that physical activity can improve people’s memory and cognitive function, and therefore may potentially prevent dementia. I even go one step further and show that this improved cognition could then reduce health care use and cost.
 - Sabrina Lenzen

Ms Lenzen is hoping that her research will help policymakers create incentives for people to become more physically active, to prevent dementia rather than just treating symptoms. She believes that so many more people would benefit from improved physical and mental power, let alone being free from the crippling effects of an insidious condition like dementia.

Read the full article at UQ Research