Does Your Loved One Have Alzheimer’s? Here Is How You Can Afford Their Care

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Alzheimer’s is a difficult thing to experience both as an individual, and a loved one on the outside. However, the condition can be managed much better with proper care. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, here is what you need to know to help cover the costs of care.

What Costs to Expect

This disease is not a predictable one, and costs will vary over time. You’ll need to be prepared for checkups, possible medical equipment in the home, household modification, medication and care services, either during the day at an adult day care facility or a full-time residential care home. Depending on where you live, private care expenses will differ. This disease is devastating in many ways. It’s a progressive disease that may get worse over time. Care can run thousands of dollars monthly.

In the early stages of the disease, you may not need to pay too much, but simply make a few changes around the home to make it safer. However, this stage typically only lasts two years. After that, care becomes increasingly more expensive. In the best possible case, your loved one will have long-term care insurance, but many do not. In such instances, it falls to the family to cover these costs.

Medicare and Medicaid

There are pitfalls to both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare may not cover long-term care costs, while Medicaid can be difficult to navigate. Before applying for Medicaid, it’s wise to give your assets to a loved one, as these can be used against you. They have a five-year look-back policy, which means the value of any assets your loved one, or their spouse, had within the last five years can be expected to be used to pay for care. Medicare covers doctor visits and diagnostic costs during the early stages of the disease, but only handles short-term care during later stages. However, if you do qualify financially, if you are under the poverty line, Medicaid can pay for the services you and your loved one will eventually need. This includes transportation, nursing care, home care and doctor appointments.

Mortgage Information

One option many turn to is a reverse mortgage . Unlike a traditional mortgage, instead of paying it down over the years, you receive payments based on the equity of your property. The balance of the loan is paid off once the home is sold, or the owner passes away. It causes equity to decrease over time, and the longer a reverse mortgage is kept, the greater the amount you owe. However, with the right research, you can find a reputable and trustworthy company that genuinely has your interests at heart. This does require shopping around to find, but can be an asset to give your loved one the care they truly need.

Alternative Funding

Many families use retirement plans and savings to help pay for their loved one’s treatment, and this is not sustainable. Get your family together to see what resources you have to work with, but do research to see what additional help you qualify for. If you are low-income, there are more state-run options available. These tend to provide general assistance to help cover medical costs, and may not be specific to Alzheimer’s. Several states, however, do give specific care for dementia-related needs. They may have day care services, home visits and what is called respite care. This provides relief for your loved one’s primary caregiver, which may be you. It’s in-home care at a greatly reduced fee, or completely free of charge. There are grants you can apply for, and non-profit foundations specifically there to help provide support.

No one wants this diagnosis. It can be difficult for all involved in countless ways. However, with the right planning, preparation and knowledge of your options, you can give your loved one devoted care, consistency and all they need to continue to thrive.

Lydia Chan, Alzheimer’s caregiver. Image Courtesy of Pexels.com

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) also known as incipient dementia or isolated memory impairment.  It is the intermediate stage between the expected aging cognitive decline versus the more severe signs of Alzheimer’s.  During the time the symptoms are evolving, the patient is often aware of their memory "slipping".

As like the rest of your body, the brain will age and forgetting someone’s name or coming up with a word is normal.  Constant forgetfulness, stopping mid-sentence in a conversation may be more of a concern.  When family and friends notice these changes it will further put up a red flag to seek further neurological evaluation.

I had a client who's family member noticed that her loved ones text messages were disjointed.  She then learned she had a recent fall.  The family member reached out to Anchor Healthcare Advocates to explore whether she had a head injury from a fall or something else.  When we first met, she shared her professional and personal life and her love of homeopathic practices.  As the story unfolded, her friends had noticed her less focused and disorganized.  She described it as being "foggy" which lasted hours and sometimes days.  She was referred to a neurologist to have diagnostic neuroimaging and neuropsychological testing which is recommended when these symptoms appear.  

Father and son enjoying a moment at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Father and son enjoying a moment at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Mild cognitive impairment can be treated.  Along with neurodiagnostic testing, antidepressants can elevate mood.   Imagine a puzzle and some of the pieces are missing.  Certain processes we have performed all our life and then suddenly forgetting how to turn the handle of a blind to let in light.  These every day signs are subtle and I hope those closest to us will question us even if it turns out to be the normal process of aging.   

 Sources:  Mayoclinic.org

 

Telehealth is a Great Addition to Your Healthcare Toolbox

The benefits of telehealth through videoconferencing allow you to be face to face with your provider.  This can give you peace of mind anywhere you are regarding your non-emergency health issues. When taking responsibility for my health and lifestyle, I have the 20 minute rule.  While I was a clinical nurse and had to call a doctor for results, if no answer within 20 minutes, a second call would be placed.  At a scheduled primary care physician appointment I follow the same standard.

Time is valuable to me and I take a proactive role in my health, wellness and fitness.  Telehealth is one of my preferred health choices that give me a greater opportunity to stay #fitover50.  According to statistics with some telehealth companies, you can schedule an appointment within 10 minutes of your call or at your own convenience which gives you control over your time and health status.

Top 5 benefits of telehealth

1.       Provides a convenient way to access a physician 24/7/365 for non-emergent issues.  It can be accessed through the internet via your smart phone or your laptop at home. 

2.       Reduces cost to patient and employer.  When the health issue is immediately identified you are able to see a doctor within hours of the initial symptoms. Telehealth may reduce time away from work by cutting down on commuting time either for yourself, a child or an aging parent.  

3.       Initial contact with a provider can identify necessity of a specialist.

4.       Providers who manage population health under risk adjusted base arrangements under Medicare and other private insurers can reduce expensive hospital admissions, emergency room visits and re-admissions to the hospital. 

5.       Once the health concern is identified, questions can be answered in a timely manner, prescription medication (non-narcotic) can be prescribed and instructions on the treatment of the illness can be given.

Watch Anchor Healthcare Advocates website for upcoming news for telehealth for their clients.