How Much Does Alzheimer's Care Cost?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2019

Care for any medical condition can be costly. For Alzheimer's disease, the cost of care may be especially concerning. Depending on the stage of the disease, care needs can vary widely. In the early stage of the disease, an individual may not need very much care and may still be able to live independently.

As the disease progresses, the impairment gets worse and the level of care will become more intensive, both in the amount of time assistance is needed and the level of assistance itself.

There are different kinds of care a person with Alzheimer's, as well as their caregiver, may need as well like basic medical care, caregiver support, and potentially long-term care. These are all things to think about when planning for the costs of Alzheimer's disease.1

Measuring the cost of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease is progressive, and as the disease gets worse - more costs may be incurred. There are still basic costs to consider in the earlier stages of the disease, and it is helpful to keep the big picture in mind while remembering that costs can vary at different times, depending on the person's general health as well.

Medical insurance or other care programs may cover some or part of these costs, but may not cover the costs in their entirety. Costs can include:2

  • Ongoing medical treatment or therapies for Alzheimer's-related symptoms
  • Costs of diagnostic tests and evaluations
  • Testing, treatment, or assistive devices for other medical conditions
  • Home modifications
  • Medication, both over-the-counter and prescription
  • Personal care supplies
  • Adult care program costs
  • Home health aide costs
  • Full-time residential care facility costs

Costs can vary widely depending on the geographical location and the person's overall health, as well as how much medical insurance covers. There are also costs incurred from lost wages if the person develops cognitive symptoms before retirement.

In addition, if family members take on caregiving roles and give up their career or take the person for appointments and leave work to do so, those are also lost wages.

Putting together a plan

Once a diagnosis is made, it's never too early to start financially planning for both short-term and long-term situations with Alzheimer's disease.

The person with Alzheimer's and their family should meet and discuss financial and legal plans. As well as the kind of care the person desires.

Things to consider when putting a plan for financial costs include making sure the caregiver has the consent of the patient to talk about financial matters, power of attorney for the caregiver, regular bills that need to be paid, how insurance claims will be handled, as well as what is and is not covered under the insurance plan, any investment decisions, and how tax returns will be done.2

These are ongoing, regular financial decisions that will still need to be addressed, in addition to care costs.

Seeking out necessary resources

Seeking out a professional financial counselor, as well as a lawyer who specializes in these kinds of situations, might be highly beneficial.

This can be overwhelming, and each state can vary in what is allowed and what is necessary to have, and these professionals will be able to guide you through the process and provide ongoing assistance if needed.

Things to consider

The financial and personal costs of caring for someone with Alzheimer's are not small, and can be intimidating – however, there are resources available, and they're worth exploring. These resources can include:2

  • Medical insurance, including government programs
  • Disability insurance
  • Life insurance and long-term care policies
  • Social Security Disability Income (for those under 65)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Tax deductions
  • Community resources that may offer free or reduced-cost care like respite care, meal delivery, visiting aides, and support groups
  • Retirement benefits

Bring in the professionals

Talking all of this over with a financial advisor can help you identify what resources might be available to you, and things you may not have thought of.

It's also worth discussing with the person's doctor or the financial office of the hospital where they receive care. Many times there are financial assistance programs or grants that people can apply for to help with medical costs.

The cost of Alzheimer's can seem insurmountable, but it is manageable. The earlier a plan is made - the better.

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