While more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a loved one with dementia, this is not the case for everyone. Not to mention, unpaid caregivers can't carry the entire burden — it's not uncommon for individuals in this situation to experience their own emotional stress and health issues. Data suggests that annual out-of-pocket medical costs for someone with Alzheimer's are approximately $8,216 compared with $2,570 for those with normal cognitive ability.While these statistics sound gloom and doom, there are some ways to alleviate the financial burden. Here's how.
What's Covered By Medicare And Medicaid
If you're one of the millions of Americans who rely on state or federal programs for assistance, look into Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplements in an effort to help you cover the costs of your medical needs. Medicare Advantage Plans are an alternative way to get your original Medicare Part A and Part B benefits, while Medicare Supplements is a type of insurance coverage that helps you pay for your Medicare Part A and Part B copayments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.
Approximately 90 percent of seniors want to age in place,and those with Alzheimer's are no exception. While it's likely that additional care will be needed (from a paid or unpaid caregiver), it's crucial that home modifications such as improved lighting, grab bars, lower water temperature, signage, etc., will be needed in order for the individual with dementia to retain some semblance of independence while remaining safe at the same time — in many cases, for several years. The good news is that there are several funding options available (grants and various financial assistance programs), but you’ve got to do your due diligence by getting into the system to be eligible.
When Home Is No Longer Doable
When aging in place is no longer an option, it may be time to consider an assisted living facility or nursing home. Reasons for making such a decision may be determined by a caregiver, health care professional, or you. Keep in mind that you may be on a waiting list for a while — especially for a good facility — so don't wait until the last minute to make this decision.
When researching properties, consider whether or not they specialize in assisting those with dementia; what all the rules are; if the home is accredited and regularly inspected; whether or not it's clean; services and activities are available; and all-encompassing costs, which include any internal payment options/plans.
If Medicare or Medicaid aren't enough to help with this type of living arrangement, consider financial alternatives such as a reverse mortgage (even from the caregiver standpoint), veterans assistance, long-term care insurance (should be planned in advance), and relocation (to a less expensive area for care) should be considered.
Perhaps one of the best ways to pay for Alzheimer's care is to prepare for it, if at all possible.While the disease still manages to baffle medical professionals, scientists believe that the number one cause is genetic mutations. If you have parents or siblings with the disease, it's best that you keep an eye on your health as you have a higher risk of developing the condition. Age, gender (women are more susceptible to dementia), previous head trauma, mild cognitive impairment, lifestyle (think diet, exercise, not smoking, stress management), sleeping habits and how much you're stimulating your brain are also contributing factors.
In an effort to prepare, consider setting up a health savings account or getting life insurance early on in life.
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