By now, there are few people in America who are not affected, in some way, by Alzheimer’s disease. Although the disease itself is not new, it prevalence has risen to almost epidemic proportions in recent years. If you have ever spent time with someone afflicted with the disease it becomes apparent rather quickly that they are suffering. What may not be as apparent is how much the patient’s caregivers are also suffering – both emotionally and financially. The Alzheimer’s Association decided to investigate just what the cost really is to caregivers. The results are nothing short of shocking.
Alzheimer’s Fact and Figures
You undoubtedly know that the rate at which people are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease has steadily climbed in recent years; however, you probably do not know exactly how rampant the disease is in the U.S. and around the world. To give you a better idea, consider some of the following facts and figures about Alzheimer’s from the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease
- In 2016, Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases will cost the nation $236 billion
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia related disease
- More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- By 2050, experts predict the number of people over age 65 living in the U.S. will exceed 13 million.
The Cost of Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s
Clearly, the facts and figures relating to Alzheimer’s are cause for concern. What people often fail to consider, however, is the cost of caring for someone with the disease. After hearing story after story of the emotional and financial cost of that care, the Alzheimer’s Association decided to conduct a survey to try and find out exactly how high the cost is for caregivers.
“First, Alzheimer’s takes a person’s memory. Then it takes their family’s money.” That’s is essentially what the results of the survey concluded. “What we found was really startling,” says Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the organization. “The cost of paying for care was putting people in a situation where they had to make really difficult choices around basic necessities — things like food, medical care, transportation.”
The report published by the Alzheimer’s Association was based on a survey of more than 3,500 Americans who are currently contributing to the care of someone with dementia. The report also concluded that:
- Friends and family spent, on average, more than $5,000 a year of their own money on the expenses of their loved one with dementia, ranging from food to adult diapers.
- More than one-third of these contributors to care who had jobs had to reduce their hours or quit.
- To make ends meet, about 13 percent had to raise money by selling personal belongings, such as a car.
- Nearly half of the care contributors surveyed had to dip into their savings or retirement funds.
The survey participants told very similar stories. One spouse begins to show signs of Alzheimer’s, including memory loss and poor decision making. After a diagnosis, future plans are changed and the financial implications start to sink in for the family. Depending on how early the diagnosis comes, the sufferer may, or may not, be able to continue working for a short period of time; however, sooner or later that income is no more. Not long after, the other spouse may have to stop working and/or pay for home based care because it simply is not safe to leave an Alzheimer’s patient home alone. The financial implications of two lost incomes can be devastating on a family.
What Can You Do?
Although experts are working hard to find the cause of Alzheimer’s and a cure, to date both remain elusive. Until a cure is found, the best thing you can do to prepare for the possibility of living with Alzheimer’s and/or caring for someone with the disease is to plan for the likelihood that you (or your spouse) will need long-term care eventually. To do that, you should include Medicaid planning in your comprehensive estate plan to ensure that you will qualify for much needed benefits if the time comes that you need them.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding how to prepare for the possibility of Alzheimer’s and the need for Medicaid planning, contact the experienced New Hampshire elder law attorneys at Debruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.