5 Tips to Financially Prepare for Alzheimer’s Treatment and Care

By on July 19, 2019
Alzheimer’s

As of 2019, an estimated 5.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and of that total number, 5.6 million are in the 65 and over age bracket, according to data compiled by the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition to the impacts of Alzheimer’s on mental cognition, physical function, social interaction and other quality of life considerations, this disease can lead to a financial burden too.

In fact, Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive medical conditions to treat in the United States, with the nationwide cost reaching $277 billion in 2018, and a forecast of more than $1 trillion by 2050, projects U.S. News and World Report.

 Even for those who are insured, the Alzheimer’s Association has found the annual Medicare expenditures for someone with this illness to be an average of $24,598 as opposed to the $7,561 of someone who does not suffer from Alzheimer’s. So if you or a loved one has experienced the onset of this disease, here are five strategies that can help make the treatment costs more affordable and manageable.

1 – Organize All of Your Assets and Expenses

 As soon as you can after the initial diagnosis, ensure your financial documents are in order and arrangements have been made to handle your expenses. Addressing this on the frontend helps to maintain financial security when the effects of Alzheimer’s start to cause memory impairment. In addition to procuring these records, you also need to discuss with trusted and supportive family members how to manage your finances once it’s no longer possible for you to oversee them which enables you to be active in the decision-making process while your faculties are still intact. The National Institute on Aging recommends that you keep the documents below organized and accessible:     

  • Retirement pensions and income streams;
  • Name of bank and account numbers;
  • Stocks, real estate and investment portfolios;
  • Social security and Medicare information;
  • Life, home, auto, health, and long-term care insurance;
  • Income, social security, and property tax records;
  • Vehicle title and registration paperwork;
  • Credit or debit card names and numbers;
  • Home deed, trust and mortgage information;
  • Official signed and updated will;
  • Any outstanding debts or living expenses.

 2 – Consult with a Qualified Financial Advisor

 As you grow older, more often than not, your financial management needs become more complex since you have accumulated wealth and assets over the course of your life. As you consolidate these assets and plan ahead for the costs of your Alzheimer’s treatment, it’s a smart idea to utilize the expertise of a financial advisor. When choosing a financial advisor to help maximize your portfolio with the demands of long-term care in mind, three basic factors should influence your decision, The Wall Street Journal cautions.

First, you want to make sure the individual is a certified financial planner (CFP) with reliable work experience and education credentials. Second, it’s important to choose someone who is fee-based and does not operate on commission, as this will decrease the risk of feeling pressured to invest in a specific area or make a certain purchase because your advisor would earn some of the revenue. Finally, look for the word “fiduciary” in the person’s qualifications which means they are bound to prioritize their clients’ interests at all times. To find a local professional who meets each of these criteria, The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is an excellent resource.

 3 – Budget for the Entire Disease Progression

 Because the nature of Alzheimer’s is degenerative, the form of treatment you will require and the costs associated will increase over time, so when you create a healthcare budget, take these escalations into account. Some accrued expenses you need to prepare for include prescribed medications, doctor checkups and specialist visits, medical equipment, home safety modifications, and in-home or residential care services. These financial obligations can accelerate quickly, so it is crucial to plan ahead.

“The average end-of-life cost in a patient’s last five years is $217,820 without dementia [or Alzheimer’s] and $341,651 with dementia [or Alzheimer’s],” notes an article in Forbes. That is a significant increase so, in order to counterbalance this amount, you should look into purchasing long-term care insurance while you still meet the health stipulations to qualify.

Always advise that you sit down with a licensed, unbiased insurance agent who can provide information on a number of different carriers so you can discuss options, learn about what coverage is available and what the costs would be to you and your family. Health insurance can be confusing to navigate, so working with a professional to ensure you find the best options for your given situation is critical. 

A qualified insurance agent will be able to inform you as to whether or not you are eligible, how to obtain these benefits, and you should also find out how to lower the price index and capitalize on tax deductions. However, if you do not have access to this kind of insurance, there are other ways to help offset expenditures.

4 – Review All Medicare Options

 If you are 65 or older and receive Social Security benefits, then you can enroll in the Medicare federal health insurance program, which can alleviate many out-of-pocket medical fees. Standard Medicare alone (Parts A and B) do not cover the more intensive treatment options that will be necessary as the condition progresses. For instance, Parts A and B include a cognitive assessment when you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, as well as hospitalizations, primary care doctor visits, the first 100 days in a skilled nursing facility and end-of-life hospice services. Aside from these basics, you will need Part D for prescription medicine coverage and either one or more of the policies below for whatever additional benefits you require:

  • Medicare Supplement Plan: this is offered by a private insurer and can be used to offset many of the expensive out-of-pocket deductibles and copayments that are associated with Parts A and B.
  • Medicare Advantage Plan: also referred to as Part C, this is also offered by a private insurer and covers areas outside the reach of Standard Medicare such as dental, vision, specialists and often prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Special Needs Plan: this is a specific branch of Part C only accessible for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia to enroll in, as the benefits are customized for the care and treatment of these illnesses.

Again, discussing these options with a licensed insurance agent is highly recommended so you ensure you have the care you or your loved one need and that you understand the associated costs.

 5 – Seek Community Resources

Local organizations and resource centers in the community where you live might extend free or low-cost services to people like you or your loved ones who face the challenges of Alzheimer’s. Whether these institutions are faith-based or secular, privately owned or government-operated, you can access all kinds of helpful assistance like transportation, meal deliveries, social networks, respite care, and support groups, to name a few. 

Other options to consider are assisted living facilities, armed with caregivers and services equipped to handle the difficulties that come with the disease as it progresses.

Many facilities see an improvement in residents who become part of that community due to the ritual and consistency of daily life, which includes meals at regular times, consistency of accurate medication dispensation and community social interaction. The hardest part is making the decision to make this move and pull off the metaphorical ‘band-aid.’

Additional programs you should know about and utilize are the Community Resource Finder from the Alzheimer’s Association. This website offers financial planning services in the areas of home care, insurance, housing, and medical interventions. In addition, you can join a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association which enables you to attend free community workshops, educational seminars, fundraising or awareness events, and other social functions to enhance your overall quality of life.

Proactively Prepare

There’s no doubt the road after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be long and difficult, but by taking steps to mitigate the finances involved and properly plan as best as you can, hopefully, the load can be lightened and allow for more special time with loved ones.

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5 Tips to Financially Prepare for Alzheimer’s Treatment and Care