There are over fifteen million people caring for loved ones that suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and while most are acutely aware of the emotional toll that care can take many do not realize the financial strife that it can cause, as well. According to a new survey released by AgingCare.com, over one quarter of Alzheimer's caregivers spend over $4,000 each month, around $50,000 each year, on their loved one's needs.
Breakdown of Costs
According to the same survey, these costs include a variety of goods and services. They include costs for home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. The Genworth Cost of Care Survey found that each of those services cost around $45,000, $42,000, and $87,600 (for a private room), respectively. On average, a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease lives for another eight to twelve years and at $4,000 per month the costs accumulate quickly.
Spending Either Money or Time
Those who opt not to spend around $4,000 per month on caregiving for their loved one with Alzheimer's spend a significant more amount of time. The AgingCare survey found that 38% of Alzheimer's caregivers provide more than thirty hours per week in unpaid care. The survey polled more than 1,600 caregivers for family members suffering from Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Almost two-thirds of caregivers are looking after a parent, and another fifth are caring for a spouse.
Financial Toll on Caregivers
The caregivers are suffering financially almost as much as they are emotionally. Over half of the caregivers polled reported that their family finances had been strained as a result of the Alzheimer's care, and around one-fifth polled had to take on a significant debt. In addition, caregiving for Alzheimer's patients are also costing some caregivers their careers. Nearly 30% of caregivers had to reduce their working hours, one quarter had to quit their job, and seventeen percent had to take a pay cut or unpaid leave.
Planning Ahead and Getting Help
According to the same survey by AgingCare, 61% of caregivers stated that their loved one had made no financial plans for future care. Unfortunately, caregivers would be spending a lot less of their own money if the proper planning had been accomplished beforehand. As uncomfortable as it may be, you should try to plan early for the possibility of Alzheimer's and plan accordingly for care.
If you have questions about a spouse or parent qualifying for Medicaid or another benefit program, an experienced elder law attorney will be able to give you sound advice on the issue.
Even though Medicare rarely covers long-term costs like home care or nursing home care, Medicaid sometimes does; however, Alzheimer's patient must have very little in assets and income.
The rules vary by the state, but typically to qualify for Medicaid a person's monthly income cannot exceed $2,000 or $3,000. In addition, certain assets (excluding a home, car and a few other belongings) cannot be worth more than $2,000 to $15,000.
The government can also help with the burden if you can claim your loved one as a dependent and write off the eligible costs of care. The dependency exemption for 2014 is $3,950 which means that your parent must have less than that amount in gross income and you must also provide more than half of their support.