After the reality sinks in that your loved one does, in fact, have Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, you discover that you now have more to think about than the diagnosis. It may have taken several years to get the diagnosis, while you worried about the well-being of your aging relative. Now that you know what your family is facing, the practical concerns kick in, and you need to develop a strategy for dealing with this situation. One of your primary questions is how to pay for the costs of care for Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Having a loved one with a significant special need, like Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, can be life-changing. You need to make sure someone is watching out for her twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you have a huge family nearby, you might be able to take shifts for a while. However, in time you will likely need to hire outside help or assist your loved one to move into residential care. Your loved one with dementia will face many other expenses. Here are some of the typical expenses for a person with dementia:
- In-home care, which can involve meal preparation, grooming, household chores, medical treatments, medication management and wellness/safety supervision.
- Home modifications for the safety and comfort of the senior with dementia.
- Drugs for the management of dementia and any other medical issues.
- Tracking devices and monthly monitoring fees can be a true lifesaver for finding a dementia patient who has wandered away from home or residential care.
- Inpatient treatment for short-term medical needs.
- Long-term care, ideally in a residential memory-care facility.
How to Pay for These Costs
To a certain extent, your financial options for paying for the expenses of dementia will depend on the age of your loved one and whether he is still working. Some people in the early stages of dementia manage to maintain employment. Here are six sources of funding for the expenses that can accompany dementia:
- Insurance. If your loved one is age 65 or older, Medicare may pick up some of her medical expenses for dementia care. If she is still working and under 65, her group employee health plan is an option. If she is under 65 but does not have group employee health insurance, check to see if she has a private health insurance plan.
- Employee benefits. People who are still working might have a menu of employee benefits that can help cover some expenses of dementia. Check with the human resources or employee benefits department about your loved one’s eligibility for paid sick leave or short-term disability benefits. A flexible spending account can also pay for some costs.
- Retirement benefits. If your loved one is retired, check to see what retirement benefits she can use. There may be more than one of these retirement accounts: IRAs, annuities, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and pensions.
- Personal assets. Some items might not have outside sources of funding. For these things, your loved one might have to spend personal assets.
- Government assistance. In addition to Medicare, many other public programs can assist with income, long-term care expenses, and other costs. If your loved one is under 65, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) might send him a monthly check. Check to see if he qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or veterans’ benefits. Sometimes a family member can get paid for serving as a caregiver for your loved one.
- Community support services. Local community organizations can offer free or low-cost home-delivered meals, transportation, support groups, respite care, and other services for your loved one and her family. Check with your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter or use the association’s Community Resource Finder to locate services in your area.
Every state has different laws and programs, so be sure to talk with an elder law attorney near you.
Alzheimer’s Association. “Community Resource Finder.” (accessed February 16, 2018) https://www.communityresourcefinder.org/
Alzheimer’s Association. “Paying for Care.” (accessed February 16, 2018) https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-costs-paying-for-care.asp#insurance