A Growing Threat
Some aspects of this disease come as a surprise to many people. One of them is the fact that it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more people than prostate and breast cancer combined, and its impact is growing.
Between the years 2000 and 2019, deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease increased by 145 percent. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, and during the same time span, deaths from heart disease went down by 7.3 percent.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 million people in our country have Alzheimer’s right now, and the number is expected to expand to 13 million by 2050.
The cost factor is eye-opening as well. This year, it is estimated that costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease will reach $355 billion, and this figure will grow as more and more people contract the disease over the coming years.
Impact on Caregivers
This disease is obviously devastating for the victims. Aside from the general loss of memory, many people with Alzheimer’s disease become unable to solve simple math problems, and they may not recognize common items that they have used every day. Some patients are quick to anger, and depression is not uncommon. All of these challenges make life difficult for the person suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Their caregivers share the burden in different ways. More than 11 million people in the United States are caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers estimate that they have spent a combined 15.3 billion hours providing assistance to patients. If this was paid care, the price tag would be over $250 billion.
It can be emotionally draining to watch a loved one deteriorate, and caregiving can be physically demanding. Expenses can accumulate as well, and in some cases, financial strain will add to the stress.
Counselors say that caregivers should allow themselves to feel whatever emotions that surface, and they should not hesitate to ask others for assistance.
Nursing Home Care
There is good advice out there, but at the end of the day, people have limits. At some point, nursing home care may be the only option. Genworth Financial conducts research every year to measure long-term care costs around the United States. In the Naperville area, the median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home in 2020 was $102,383.
This is a lot of money to come up with late in your life, and Medicare does not pay for custodial care. Medicaid will cover these costs if you can gain eligibility, but there is a $2000 limit on countable assets.
Assets can be conveyed into an irrevocable Medicaid trust, and they would not count if the grantor was to apply for Medicaid. However, the funding must take place at least five years before the application for coverage is submitted.
Elder Financial Abuse
In addition to the caregiving challenge, another elder law concern that is impacted by cognitive impairment is elder financial abuse. This is a problem that costs billions of dollars annually, and as the population gets older, the situation will inevitably worsen.
There is no magic pill that will make you immune to elder financial abuse, but there are legal steps you can take to mitigate your exposure.
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We are not trying to paint a gloom and doom scenario, but you should understand the challenges that can present themselves so you can implement the appropriate safeguards.
If you are ready to work with a Naperville or North Aurora, Illinois elder law attorney to establish a plan for aging, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 630-568-8611.