Editor’s note: Today, Your Health Matters features a guest blog post from Lydia Chan, a writer who works for alzheimerscaregiver.net in Tacoma, WA.
When it comes to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to prepare in advance. Studies indicate the cost of treatment for Alzheimer’s is widely variable. Treatment costs can depend on many factors, including family involvement, length of care, severity of illness, and other present health conditions that can complicate a diagnosis. Here are six ways to help you stay financially secure when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Have the conversation now
About 5.4 million people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. currently. Because of its frequency, it’s important to have conversations about Alzheimer’s, especially during the beginning stages. Whether you or a loved one are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, try to have a plan. Discuss end-of-life arrangements, housing arrangements, and treatment options. Make sure you and your loved ones are on the same page.
- Assess your financial status before cost planning
It’s helpful to appoint family members or close loved ones who can help with calculating where you stand financially. One of the first steps is to get an idea for where you are with your finances overall. This will determine what steps you take next. Things to consider include the value of a long-term care insurance plan, as well as the value of a mortgage, in case you need to use a reverse mortgage. Consider the value of investments, including 401(k) accounts and IRAs, as well as any other assets you may have.
As you assess your financial status, make sure other people are in the know about your status and consider designating a trusted loved one to handle your financials. That way you know someone will always have your back.
- Calculate estimated out-of-pocket costs
Direct costs to consider are doctor’s visits, care setting, caregiver opportunities, and comorbid disorders. Disease severity is the variable most associated with high costs. About 75% of the total treatment costs for Alzheimer’s occur in the late stages of the disease. Studies indicate that delaying institutionalization can save more than $1,800 per month, as well.
- Make legal preparations
The National Institute on Aging suggests getting legal advice. Consulting an attorney can help clarify state law, determine caregiving responsibility, help you financially plan, and answer questions about future care. You can also take care of wills and other end-of-life agreements.
- Look at what’s covered by Medicare
Understanding the ins and outs of Medicare is one of the most important things you need to be aware of as you make financial preparations to cover costs associated with Alzheimer’s. Medications and outpatient care services are mostly covered by Medicare, but most long-term assisted living isn’t covered. In some cases, however, nursing home care for 100 days can be covered if it follows a hospital stay that is longer than three days in length—especially if the visit is associated with complications or problems related to Alzheimer’s.
- Establish good caregiving
You’ll want to find a good caregiver, whether you hire someone or designate someone in the family. The services of a family member can be an enormous financial relief, as the day-to-day cost of care and assistance can add up quickly. This is also important, because some economists predict a shortage in caregiving because of changing trends in population growth. If someone in your family will be the caregiver, make sure you have a trusted relationship with that person and that life circumstances allow your relative to be available to provide care when needed.
The different stages of Alzheimer’s present their own sets of problems, including financial issues. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, do your best to prepare yourself financially. When you’re prepared financially, you have a lot of weight off your shoulders and can sleep more easily.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, visit the WPS Health Insurance Wellness page and search on “Alzheimer’s disease.”