Advice for the country’s costliest disease – Alzheimer’s
During this time of year, many families and individuals across the country take a closer look at their finances. As families consider their circumstances, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages people to proactively plan for the financial impact of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the costliest illnesses in the country. Today, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and more than 11 million family members are unpaid caregivers. While the costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease can be enormous for families, the Alzheimer’s Association offers tips for planning the financial impact of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some include:
Watch retirement planning as a time to think about how to prepare for the need for long-term medical care. Having financial and legal plans in place now provides an opportunity to express your wishes for future care and decisions. It also helps address complex long-term care issues.
Take an inventory of your financial resources (savings, insurance, retirement, public aid, VA, etc.). A financial planner or senior care lawyer can help.
Improve your understanding the role and limits of Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance options. A 2016 Alzheimer’s Association report found that nearly two in three people mistakenly believe Medicare helps pay for nursing home care, or don’t know if it does.
Investigate Long Term Care Services (for example, home care, assisted living, and nursing homes) in your area. Ask what types of insurance they accept and if they accept Medicaid, as few people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have sufficient long-term care insurance or can afford to pay out of pocket for long-term care services for as long as they are needed.
Call the Local Agency on Aging to determine what community services and support programs are available (for example, respite care, homemaking services, and meals on wheels can help ease the financial burden).
Make a plan with your family or a close friend on how to access care once you understand your financial resources and what you can afford.
Learn more about tax breaks to which you may be entitled if you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers are probably paying some health care costs out of pocket. For this reason, you can benefit from tax benefits from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax rules are complex and can change. Make sure you get the advice of your tax advisor or accountant before you file your returns.
The costs of illness can compromise a family’s financial security, and many families and caregivers make enormous personal and financial sacrifices. The 2021 Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report found astounding results:
In 2020, the lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia was $ 373,527. Average reimbursable expenses for health care and long-term care services not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance exceed $ 10,000 per year. Forty-eight percent of healthcare providers have to cut their own expenses – including basic needs like food and medical care – to pay for dementia care, while others have to dip into their own savings or retirement funds. Almost two in three people mistakenly believe that medicare helps pay for nursing home care, or are uncertain whether it does.
For more information on financial planning, register to attend one of our “Legal and Financial Planning” virtual education classes on Tuesday, October 12th. Register during 10 a.m. at www.tinyurl.com/LFamclass or during 5 p.m. at www. .tinyurl.com / LFpmclass.
Sarah Lovegreen is vice president of programs for the Greater Missouri Alzheimer’s Association.