Dealing with the Financial and Emotional Costs of Dementia
The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as, “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.” In fact, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Dementia is not a specific disease; rather, it describes a general decline in memory or other thinking skills and is identified through a variety of symptoms.
Cost to the Individual
The cost to the individual diagnosed with dementia is difficult to quantify. Typically, during the beginning stages of dementia, the effects and the cost to the individual are minimal. As dementia progresses, so does the need for assistance with daily activities. For example, they may need help with grooming and hygiene, meal preparation and transportation. Dementia patients sometimes place themselves at risk by roaming the neighborhood or other dangerous activities. Assistance from others is often minimal at first; however, they may soon need around the clock supervision to protect them from themselves and help with activities of daily living.
The cost of caretaking for someone with dementia is dependent on the amount of care needed. An in-home caretaker may charge $15-$20 per hour or more. In Louisiana, care in a nursing home can easily cost in excess of $70,000 a year depending on the facility.
Cost to the Family
If the individual with dementia is fortunate enough to have family nearby, the family will often step up to provide assistance with activities of daily living for the ill loved one. If a family member must quit their job or reduce the number of hours worked to provide care, the cost to the family includes the foregone income.
The less recognized cost to the family is the emotional strain that is placed on the family member’s caretakers. The long hours providing care in addition to their other responsibilities take their toll on the physical, mental and emotional health of the caretaker. It is important that the family be aware of and are able to assess this cost. Providing time off each day, week or month can go a long way to maintaining the caretaker’s health.
Cost to the Nation
A study conduct by RAND Corporation in 2013, estimated the national cost of dementia to be between $159 billion and $215 billion (including an estimate of the monetary value of informal care provided). The majority of the costs associated with dementia are for institutional and home-based care rather than medical services.
It is recommended that families seek emotional support by way of a therapist or support group. In addition, families should seek out an Elder Law attorney to guide families to important resources available for the financial and other challenges they will face. Elder law attorneys can also ensure that the family’s assets are being used in the most efficient manner considering other available resources and the family’s goals.
If you have a family member with dementia and have questions regarding coordinating care and the financial resources to pay for their care, contact Elder law attorney, John Sirois. Contact John by phone (985) 580-2520 or by email at . Visit John’s website www.LouisianaEstatePlanner.com for more information. To order a copy of John’s book, Louisiana Retirement and Estate Planning, click here.