The first signs may be mistaken for typical behavior in an older person: excessive sleeping, lack of interest in a hobby, passivity, and social withdrawal. Then come the overt signs: the anxiety, the inability to remember basic steps for tasks such as tying shoes, the difficulty in remembering family members’ names, or the inability to speak, read, or write properly. Then comes the formal diagnosis: your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease.
You react as you normally would when any other medical bad news comes your way -- shock, sadness, fear -- but this time it’s different. This time, you’ll be watching as someone just disappears, as all parts of their personality start to crumble away.
According to the World Economic Forum, Alzheimer's disease currently affects 5.5 million Americans, a figure expected to increase to 13.8 million by 2050. Treatment costs approximately $277 billion per year and is rising. According to Emily Gurnon writing for Forbes.com, the costs of the disease to Medicare and Medicaid is $175 billion. Yet, while all these facts seem to be overwhelming, they seem irrelevant when it comes down to you and your family’s costs in taking care of your loved one. The bottom line is that Alzheimer’s care is expensive and, if you take it on, it can become physically and emotionally exhausting. However, once you get the news that your loved one has the disease, you need to consider some options as far as the care itself and how you can pay for it.
First, you must decide where you want your loved one to receive care. That will determine how much you will need for out-of-pocket costs. Keep in mind that Medicare does not cover non-medical home care aides. However, it does selectively cover home health care when considered medically necessary, such as treatments involving skilled nursing or physical therapy. Home care averages about $16 to $19 per hour, depending on the state or region of the country. Adult day-care costs, however, can run up to $70 a day. Assisted-living care is the most expensive over the long term. As of 2016, the national average for assisted care living is approximately $3,600 per month.
How to Pay for Care
Next, you will need to decide how to cover the costs. Medicare does cover doctors’ visits and prescription drugs. However, if the Alzheimer’s patient is a veteran, the Veterans Administration provides coverage for a full range of services, including home care, adult day care, and nursing home care. Medicaid is also an option since it can pay for in-home and nursing home care. However, it is a state-based, means-tested program, meaning there are strict asset guidelines to receive coverage, and those guidelines vary from state to state.
Needless to say, treatment for Alzheimer’s can be expensive, and the options for getting help in paying for it can be somewhat limited. You might, however, have some personal resources that can ease the burden somewhat. For example, if you have purchased a permanent life insurance policy, you can cash it in. You can also make use of community resources that can help you find affordable quality care and a network of support. You can also take steps now to ease the burden of those costs associated with Alzheimer’s should it strike. Talk with your insurance agent about a long-term care insurance policy. There are some definite pros and cons into that type of insurance, but it can definitely help out when you or your spouse needs Alzheimer’s care.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that, like others, drains you emotionally and financially. But you should try to plan early and understand your options for care and how to pay for them. As you know, patients with Alzheimer's disease find it difficult to leave home for their health-care services. For this reason, Larkin Community Hospital's Doctor at Home program is a great option for patients with Alzheimer's. Contact Larkin Community Hospital'sDoctor at Home 305.284.7666 program for more information on Alzheimer's at-home healthcare options.