This article was written exclusively for our SCT readers, by our good friend Karen Weeks of Elder Wellness.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that largely affects seniors. As the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s is characterized by the death of brain cells that cause memory loss and cognitive decline. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the person can typically continue with their normal day-to-day lives with minimal supervision. However, as the symptoms of the disorder become worse over time, people with Alzheimer’s eventually need to enter some type of long-term care situation.
While Medicare is a valuable resource for seniors when it comes to covering health care expenses, the federal insurance program doesn’t always pick up the check when it comes to the high costs associated with Alzheimer’s care. Planning for these costs ahead of time ensures
- That you get the quality care you want, and
- You aren’t putting a huge financial burden on your family’s shoulders.
Paying for Alzheimer’s Care: A Guide
Finding Affordable Alzheimer’s Care
When it comes to finding affordable long-term care, the more planning you put into it, the more it pays off. For a person with Alzheimer’s, the best option is going to be an assisted living facility or nursing home. The difficulties that come with Alzheimer’s make it difficult for in-home care and typically those with serious medical conditions find that assisted living facilities are the more affordable option. Research senior living communities in your area and take tours to make sure the atmosphere is to your liking. Seeing a place in person also gives you the chance to ask about price flexibility– sometimes the price listed on the website isn’t the final offer.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance covers the high costs that Medicare and other health care plans will not. Premiums are high, but they simply reflect the certainty that health care costs are only going to increase with time. The younger a person is when they buy into their long-term care insurance policy, the more affordable it will be. However once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, buying long-term care insurance is no longer an option.
Medicare and Medicaid will help cover some costs associated with Alzheimer’s. When it comes to diagnosis, Medicare Part B covers about 80 percent of the costs when it comes to tests, mental evaluations, and appointments with any and all neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Medicare will also cover the majority of costs associated with psychiatric care post-diagnosis that can help with associated conditions like depression and aggression. Furthermore, Medicare now offers care planning as a service that helps patients to understand both what their medical options are including alternative treatments, possible clinical trials and non-medical support. As Alzheimer’s progresses into the middle and late stages, Medicare will still help pay for doctors’ visits and prescription drugs, but there is little else that it covers.
Health Savings Account
Opening a health savings account (HSA) is an easy way to put aside thousands of dollars a year, gain interest and protect that income from taxes. All the interest you make is tax-free and when the time comes to withdraw, there is no tax penalty as long as the funds are used for approved healthcare services including those of assisted living facilities. Only those who have high-deductible health plans are eligible for HSAs, but it’s certainly an option worth looking into if you’re concerned about saving for long-term care costs associated with Alzheimer’s.
While in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person can comfortably live at home. However, as the disease progresses, they need stable long-term care in a professional facility. Paying for long-term care isn’t easy. The sooner you start planning, the better off you’ll be. It helps to find the most affordable option, but ultimately, you need to secure funds for what Medicare will not cover.