CHARLESTON — Alzheimer’s disease is one of the costliest conditions to society because of health care costs and long-term care services needed.
This year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, the total national cost of caring for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to reach $321 billion. Medicare and Medicaid are expected to cover 64% of the total payments for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
But despite these and other sources of financial assistance, individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias still incur high out-of-pocket costs. If the person with the disease does not have resources, the financial burden often falls to other family members.
“Financial planning for the possibility of a long-term medical condition such as Alzheimer’s can be daunting, yet is vital for families,” said Teresa Morris, Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter program director. “Since this is National Financial Literacy Month, it is a great time for caregivers to think about legal and financial planning because it helps families figure out the financial resources available to their loved one with dementia,” Morris said.
One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Michael Booth, an attorney, said Alzheimer’s disease was devastating to his family. “My father didn’t have long-term care coverage. Around-the-clock, in-home healthcare can run six to 10 thousand dollars a month or more. The cost per month was about that when he moved into assisted living and then to a memory care unit. It’s easy to see how in less than three years since his diagnosis this amounted to more than $200,000.”
Booth added, his father’s “entire savings, that he worked 45 years for, has been consumed by first in-home care and then by residential care facilities, hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
“Families need help,” Booth said. “Long-term care insurance is generally unavailable or too expensive if it is available. Our legislators need to find a way to help protect those who are most vulnerable.”
The unfortunate truth, as noted in Facts and Figures is that among caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s, or those who contribute financially to their loved one’s care, 48% cut back on their own expenses (including food, transportation and medical care) to pay for dementia-related care. In addition, due to the economic burden of dementia-related costs, one in five caregivers dip into their retirement savings, and 15% have to borrow money. One in nine cut back on spending for their children’s education.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive, fatal brain disease that kills nerve cells and tissues in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan, speak, walk. In the United States, more than 6 million people have the disease.
Brandon Creech, a financial advisor with Midwestern Wealth Management, said,
“We may not be able to control the disease or how it affects our loved ones, but we can control how we either plan for it or respond to it,” Creech said. “I encourage families to take proactive control. Work with a team of competent, experienced professionals in areas, such as financial planning, legal and tax, to get organized and create a comprehensive financial plan. The earlier we get started, the earlier we can make informed decisions to care for our loved ones as they deserve.”