A few months ago the Alzheimer’s Association released a report that will probably come as no surprise to those caring for loved ones suffering with the disease – but it may be an eye-opener to the rest of us. We found this article describing the report on the website of National Public Radio.
The first line of the article tells the somber tale. “First, Alzheimer’s takes a person’s memory,” says the NPR article. “Then it takes their family’s money.”
According to the NPR article, the Alzheimer’s Association decided to study the financial burden borne by friends and family caring for Alzheimer’s sufferers when they began hearing more and more anecdotal stories from around the country. These stories hinted at the depth of the problem. The just-released study adds data to demonstrate just how severe the burden can be, and how ill-equipped many caregivers are to cope with the out-of-pocket financial costs of Alzheimer’s care.
The article quotes Beth Kallmyer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “What we found,” she states, “was really startling. The cost of paying for care was putting people in a situation where they had to make really difficult choices around basic necessities — things like food, medical care, transportation.” The survey included more than 3,500 Americans caring for loved ones with dementia. A few specific data points:
• Friends and family report spending an average of $5,000 or more of their own money just on personal care items for the person they’re caring for.
• More than one-third of working caregivers had to reduce their outside working hours due to the demands of caring for a loved one with dementia.
• Nearly half had to dip into savings or retirement funds as part of the expense of caregiving.
The NPR article profiles a couple from Kentucky facing this terrible emotional and financial burden. The husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago at age 55. Soon he was forced into early retirement, and his wife had to take early retirement a few years later. The couple has begun selling assets to pay for care at home and to cover their debts and living expenses. They’re getting by now – but when the husband needs institutional care, as he certainly will, they’re not really sure what they’re going to do.
The article ends with a quote from a geriatric psychiatrist and Alzheimer’s expert. “Ultimately,” he says, “society will need to think of other ways of funding care for our elders as they become vulnerable.” This may be true, but will those other ways be in place if and when your family is affected? Considering the state of our nation’s politics and the uncertainties of our medical system, the odds seem highly unlikely.
Here at AgingOptions our passion is to help you prepare for the future, whatever it may bring. We want our clients to be able to face their retirement years with confidence, knowing they have a comprehensive plan – a LifePlan, as we call it – securely in place. Your LifePlan will help you plan for any eventuality, even the devastation of dementia, because you will know ahead of time what options are available for your care and your finances. Our highest priorities are to help clients protect their assets while avoiding becoming a burden to their loved ones. If facing the future with confidence sounds appealing to you, we invite you to take the first step by attending a free LifePlanning Seminar. There’s no obligation, and we know you’ll enjoy an information-packed session. Then if you would like to meet with us personally, we can arrange it at your convenience.
To register for a LifePlanning Seminar at a time and location that’s best for you, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We’ll look forward to seeing you soon.
(originally reported at www.npr.org)