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Make Sure You Plan For Alzheimer's Care

By Elmer George

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Make Sure You Plan For Alzheimer's Care - By Elmer George

Here's a fun fact: dementia and Alzheimer's care cost more than $600 billion -- $277 billion in the US alone -- each year worldwide. If memory issues were a country, it would have one of the world's top 20 economies. The cost of care is often split between savings, private insurance, and government benefits, such as those provided by the VA, Medicaid, and Medicare.
What is Alzheimer's?
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that causes dementia. It is responsible for up to 80 percent of all diagnosed cognitive decline in older Americans. However, Alzheimer's is not a normal part of the aging process, and there are nearly a quarter million Americans under the age of 65 with the disease. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, and those diagnosed will almost certainly rely on care as the disease continues to inhibit their ability to remain independent.
Potential costs
The financial impact of Alzheimer's disease can be great. Needs can change over time and sometimes without warning. Current and future care costs may include:
●      Treatment for related symptoms
●      Medical equipment
●      Prescription medications
●      Home modifications to improve safety or to prevent wandering
●      Personal care supplies, such as adult diapers
●      In-patient care via a residential facility
●      In-home services provided by medical and nonmedical personnel
Alzheimer's care is expensive, with the average semi-private nursing home room costing more than $85,700 each year. A home health aide may cost $30 per hour. Adult day care services, depending on location, can cost $70 per day or more, nearly twice that of childcare. Out-of-pocket costs for these and other services vary and are largely dependent upon each individual's insurance plan and desired level of service. The vast majority of Alzheimer's patients can expect to pay several thousand dollars each year toward co-pays.
In addition to medical or home care, an Alzheimer's patient, or more likely their family, will still be responsible for paying the mortgage and utility bills if they are able to stay in their current home.
How to pay for Alzheimer's care
Medicare pays for Alzheimer's care in the same way it pays for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and injuries. Medicare, however, imposes strict limits and will only pay for 100 percent of nursing home care for 20 days; those requiring psychiatric care may be eligible for an additional 80 days at 80 percent payment. One major drawback of stand-alone Medicare is that it does not cover at-home care or assisted living for Alzheimer's patients still capable of living somewhat independently. Medicaid, like Medicare, is a publicly-funded form of insurance for low-income families. Requirements for Medicaid eligibility vary by state, and are often based on financial need and physical limitations.
The VA also provides limited nursing care benefits. According to ElderLawAnswers.com, veterans and their spouses may qualify for assistance if they have assets not exceeding $80,000. It is important to note that this does not include a primary residence and family vehicle.
Private health insurance may also be an option. Keep in mind, as Medicare.org explains, it may not be enough to fully pay for expenses.
Even with insurance, VA benefits, and state- and federally-funded assistance, many individuals will need to rely on personal savings to bridge the gap between benefits and actual out-of-pocket costs. Unfortunately, savings must often be depleted to be eligible for state or federal benefits. There are laws that prevent a surviving spouse from becoming impoverished due to their partner's admission into nursing care. PolicyGenius.com explains this and more in this article.
The time to plan for your Alzheimer's care is now. Whether you have a family history of the disease or a long line of relatives that remained spry and spunky to triple digits, failure to plan is a mistake that can lead to financial ruin for yourself and your adult children.

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