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 (of 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. 

A Caregivers View of Estate Planning

Dr. Charles Parker interviewed me to learn more about my caregiving journey and why I was so passionate about other families avoid the roadblocks we faced. You can download this interview or listen on a variety of services here.

aging-parentsIn time, my parents turned to me for help. I developed a deeper relationship and helped guide their care as well as end-of-life wishes. What I learned I use to provide classes for caregivers to help them on their journey, as well as offer all adults an understanding of why going deeper than estate, financial, and insurance plans is a necessity for anyone who wants to lead the life they choose.
~ Kay Bransford

Aging Parents: Why Kay Became Organized For Her Family

My aging parents’ health started to fail, and they were simultaneously walking into different forms of dementia [Mom = vascular; Dad = Alzheimer’s].

They didn’t recognize they needed help and would not accept it from their children. We were all worried for their safety and the safety of others. I had to learn how and when to step in to offer help; how to respect the parent-child relationship but guide them toward safer living arrangements, hide the cars as they continued to drive with revoked licenses, and manage their financials while ensuring they still felt meaning and purpose.

Noteworthy

My parents had planned well (estate, insurance, financial plans and moved into a continuing care retirement community), however, when I needed to step in as a personal and healthcare advocate, I didn’t have the knowledge or authority that I needed to help them. I created a system for myself, then others asked me for it, and I realized there was a greater need and wrote up a business plan and won an award from AARP Foundation for this idea and plan.

I changed a great deal. I had to change because my parents could not.

Here are some of the key topics covered in the CoreBrainJournal interview: 

Kay’s professional mission – end of life planning [1:30]

Parent denial of deterioration [5:04]

Her transformation into family manager [9:50]

Broader applications for more effective family interventions [10:40]

She takes us beyond “estate planning” [16:30]

Get that Durable Power of Attorney [20:20]

Important differences with Powers of Attorney  [21:38]

Kay’s professional mission – end of life planning [1:30] aging parents, organization, end of life, family planning

Parent denial of deterioration [5:04]

Her transformation into family manager [9:50]

Broader applications for more effective family interventions [10:40]

She takes us beyond “estate planning” [16:30]

Get that Durable Power of Attorney [20:20]

Important differences with Powers of Attorney  [21:38]