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.
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.
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