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How much money is needed to care for a loved one with dementia?

DMMHouseI wish I could tell you there was an easy answer to this question. But there isn’t. Just like every dementia is different, every support network is different as is every metropolitan area in terms of costs and options.

The Alzheimer’s Association just posted a campaign stating it is the most expensive disease in the United States. They do state that 1 hour of Alzheimer’s costs taxpayers $21 million, but most of the costs are in terms of Medicare and Medicaid expenses. How might your family look at the cost and impact to your family?

Some things to consider include:

  • How much time are you spending each week providing unpaid care? From rides to the doctor to meal preparation and financial management?
  • Is the time you are spending helping a loved one impacting your job in terms of lost wages? Diminished opportunity for promotions?
  • What will be needed to spend in terms of personal care assistance? Is it all out of pocket or is there long-term care insurance that can cover some of the expense?
  • How much does a memory care or assisted living community cost?

The numbers add up quickly. For an example, the year after my dad died, we spent around $40,000 (or her money) in personal care assistance for my mom. She was living in a life-care community, wasn’t progressed enough to live in the Memory Care neighborhood, but needed more assistance navigating her day. Her community costs were $96,000. So in 2014, we spent around $136,000 on her community and care costs. Had she just moved in with us, having a personal care assistant around the clock would have been around $120,000. Had that been an option, we could have probably decreased that costs when we knew we would be at home to help with her care.

The last year of Mom’s life, after we moved her into a community designed for an active woman with dementia, the cost was close to $200,000. While her community cost was a little less expensive then the life care community they chose a decade earlier, her personal care costs were $96,000. After she fell and wasn’t steady on her feet, we needed to pay for a personal care assistant to be with her 12 hours a day so she wouldn’t try to get up and walk on her own.

Frightening numbers! Thankfully, my parents had saved and had the money to cover their expenses.

One thing to consider is that allowing an individual to maintain their independence and purpose as long as they can is something they will treasure. It can also minimize expenses, but shouldn’t be at the risk of other factors. If they are living alone, find a good solution to detect falls since that is the greatest risk for most older adults.

Dementia stinks. It robs us emotionally, and financially. As a Daily Money Manager, I help families develop plans to assess the costs and consider the options. To learn more about how I help families, visit here. I’m always happy to help families navigate these issues. Offered. 

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