‘Take inventory’ during Financial Wellness Month
January is Financial Wellness Month and the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging people to proactively plan for the financial impact of Alzheimer’s — the most expensive disease in the country.
The association offers these tips:
— Look at retirement planning as a time to think about how to prepare for the need for long-term medical care. After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, your options may be more limited.
— Conduct an inventory of your financial resources — savings, insurance, retirement benefits, government assistance, VA benefits, etc. A financial planner or elder care attorney can help.
— Enhance your understanding of the role and limitations of Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance options. An Alzheimer’s Association report found nearly two of three people incorrectly believe Medicare helps pay for nursing home care, or were unsure whether it did.
— Investigate long-term care services — for example, home care, assisted living residences and nursing homes — in your area. Ask what types of insurance they accept and if they accept Medicaid, as few individuals with Alzheimer’s 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.
Disease-related costs can cause many families and caregivers to make enormous personal and financial sacrifices. According to the 2020 Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report:
— In 2020, the lifetime cost of care for a person living with dementia was $373,527.
— Average out-of-pocket costs for health care and long-term care services not covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance exceed $10,000 annually.
— Nearly half (48%) of care contributors must cut back on their own expenses — including basic necessities such as food, transportation and medical care — to afford dementia-related care, while others must draw from their own savings or retirement funds.
— Nearly two out of three people incorrectly believe that Medicare helps pay for nursing home care, or were unsure whether it does.
— Few individuals with Alzheimer’s or 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 the services are needed.
— Of the total lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia, 70% is borne by families — either through out-of-pocket health and long-term care expenses or from the value of unpaid care.
— Alzheimer’s disease can also significantly affect the earning potential of an individual living with the disease or their caregiver: 18% of dementia caregivers went from full to part-time or cutback hours, 9% of caregivers gave up working entirely and 6% retired early.