How to Pay for Alzheimer’s Care
You can pay for Alzheimer’s care with personal savings, federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid or other state or local assistance groups.
The methods used to pay for Alzheimer’s care will be different for every individual and family. It will depend on how much money you have personally and how you’ve planned for the future. In addition, the cost of care will likely vary dramatically throughout the disease. Many people in early-stage Alzheimer’s don’t need any support at all, while those in the later stages could need 24-hour support.
In this article we’ll talk about Alzheimer’s care needs and outline eight tips to help you pay for care.
Alzheimer’s Disease Overview, Progression and Care Needs
More than 5 million people in the United States have dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Georgia Department of Human Services. Approximately 140,000 of those live in Georgia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. The signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can affect the individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks, including making plans for the future.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means it worsens over time, but the rate at which it progresses can vary between people. Doctors describe the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in terms of stages.
Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Care Needs
In early-stage Alzheimer’s, the individual can live independently but may have problems coming up with the right name or word; he or she can also have increasing difficulty making plans. Early-stage Alzheimer’s disease can last for years and could have no immediate financial burdens on your family, as the individual can still live alone.
Mid-Stage Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Care Needs
In middle-stage Alzheimer’s, the person begins to experience forgetfulness about personal history and confusion in where they are, what day of the week it is or how to choose appropriate clothing for the season. People with middle-stage Alzheimer’s may have increasing trouble controlling their bowel and bladder function, experience changes in sleep patterns that keep them up at night and exhibit mood and personality changes. Many begin wandering or getting lost at this stage.
Middle-stage Alzheimer’s is typically the longest stage of the disease and requires support from others. At this stage, you’ll likely begin paying for in-home Alzheimer’s care or memory care from a specialized community that can provide the support your relative needs.
Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Care Needs
Symptoms become severe in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. As memory and cognitive skills decline, individuals begin to lose the ability to respond appropriately to their environment, communicate with others and, eventually, control movement. People need more care in the later stages of dementia and as the disease progresses, 24-hour care is often necessary. Those with late-stage dementia are often unable to live at home and typically move to a memory care home if they haven’t made the transition already.
On average, people live four to eight years after receiving their diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, although some live as long as 20 years following diagnosis. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, patients with Alzheimer’s need an ever-increasing amount of care throughout the years, and this care can present a significant financial burden on the patient and family. Fortunately, there are some options when it comes to paying for Alzheimer’s care.
8 Tips for Paying for Alzheimer’s Care
1. Start Planning Early
While it is impossible to predict how quickly an individual will progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease or the total Alzheimer’s care cost, it is reasonable to anticipate an increasing need for care throughout the years. Planning ahead for financial assistance for Alzheimer’s care is always wise. If you’ve just started to learn about Alzheimer’s and planning for care costs, check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s page on Planning for Care Costs.
2. Tap Into Personal or Retirement Savings
The easiest way to pay for Alzheimer’s care is through personal funding. Take stock of family resources and funds, such as personal and retirement savings. Retirement plans, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and annuities, may provide critical financial resources.
3. Consider Medicare
Medicare is a federal health insurance program for those aged 65 or older who are receiving Social Security retirement benefits, or those who are under age 65 and have certain disabilities.
Medicare will pay for some, but not all, care costs if the person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is a Medicare beneficiary. Generally focusing on covering medical acute care, Medicare pays for doctor’s visits, prescription drugs and hospital stays. Medicare will only pay for the first 100 days in a nursing home, after which the patient must pay with personal resources or other funding sources. Medicare will pay for up to 35 hours a week of home health care for people who are in the early stages of dementia and are homebound. Medicare Part D also helps pay for drugs prescribed by a doctor for dementia.
4. Look into Medicaid
Medicaid will cover in-home care for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease if, without it, the person would be in a nursing home. The program also covers adult day care, which typically includes prepared meals, activities and transportation. Adult day care programs often provide relief for both professional and informal family caregivers.
Medicaid will cover the cost of care for memory units in nursing homes, in which the staff have undergone specialized training in caring for those with dementia. The Medicaid program will also pay for hospice care for those who have less than 6 months to live. Hospice care includes doctor, nursing and personal care, along with prescriptions for the patient and counseling for both the patient and family members.
Medicare and Medicaid cover different services for people with different types of dementia. In other words, the services covered by Medicare may not be covered by Medicaid and vice versa.
5. Search for State Financial Assistance Programs
Many states offer financial assistance for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Some programs provide assistance only for those with dementia and therefore require a formal diagnosis, while others assist all those with age-related care needs. Because funding often comes from the state’s “general fund,” which often has only limited funding, these programs support a limited number of people. Waiting lists are common.
Through its network of 12 Area Agency on Aging locations, Georgia offers a variety of Home and Community Based Services that help older adults stay in their homes. Programs may include adult day care, homemaker services and chore services, although some areas offer a wider scope of services. Waiver programs are available to help adults and those with disabilities live in their home, or in their personal or memory care community, rather than in a nursing home.
6. Use VA Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a wide range of services for veterans with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. These services may include:
- Home based primary care
- Homemaker and home health aide
- Adult day health care
- Respite care
- Residential or nursing home
- Palliative care
- Hospice care
The VA also provides caregiver support and their Aid and Attendance program may help qualified veterans and their spouses pay for Alzheimer’s care.
7. Reach Out to Charities or Local Financial Assistance Groups
Some organizations offer assistance by working directly with patients and their families. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America offers the Fall Milton & Phyllis Berg Respite Care Grant, for example, while Help for Alzheimer’s Families has the Recharge Respite Grant and Extended Relief Respite Grant for caregivers. If you meet the qualification guidelines, these and other programs may provide additional financial support.
8. Learn About Georgia Memory Care Communities
Plan ahead by researching memory care communities. Our memory care guide is one way to get started. You should also research the communities you’re interested in by looking at pictures on their website and evaluating the services available. Next, reach out to the community to learn more about their accommodation, staff training and their memory care pricing.
Heritage of Brookstone is one option for personal care and memory care in the Kennesaw, Georgia, area and we encourage you to review our options. We provide customized support and memory care programs that are designed specifically for effective Alzheimer’s care. Our team is highly trained and committed to helping every resident engage, connect and grow. For more information, contact us. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.