Costs of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer's or Dementia

By Ruby Cemental

Not only can a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia take an emotional toll on a family, but it can also take a financial toll. Between medical costs and specialized care costs, your loved one might face stacks of bills. In fact, dementia may be the most expensive disease in America. As a family caregiver, it's important to know the various expenses that your loved one is likely to incur. They can add up quickly, and the more financially prepared you and your family can be, the better! Here are some categories of expenses to plan for.  

Medical Costs 

You are likely to incur a variety of medical costs when a loved one develops Alzheimer's or dementia. From diagnosis to death, the average medical costs are estimated at $341,000, and families typically pay 70% of these costs out of pocket. The total healthcare cost for treating dementia in the United States is around $305 billion. That cost is expected to rise as the senior population continues to grow.  

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a different look at the medical costs by breaking down the average annual Medicare and Medicaid spending per person. Medicare spends about $25,213 per senior with dementia and only $7,750 per senior without dementia. Similarly, Medicaid spends about $8,779 per senior with dementia and only $374 per senior without dementia. This shows the impact that dementia can have on medical costs.  

While there is no cure for dementia, there are several treatments that can help with symptoms. Usually, these treatments are ongoing, resulting in recurring medical expenses. While some of these costs may be covered by insurance, families may still need to cover part of the bill along with additional costs. Some of the different medical costs to consider include doctor visits, follow-ups, and prescription drugs. To get a better idea of what expenses will be for your loved one, talk to their doctor. 

Care Costs 

In addition to medical care, a senior with dementia may require specialized care either at home or in a memory care facility. Ultimately, these care costs are based upon the individual's situation. You might decide to go with home care, which might also involve bringing out a home nurse from time to time or having a caregiver in the home during the day. You might also want to look at senior daycare as well as nursing home facilities.  

As home care becomes too difficult, you're going to need another option. It's a good idea to do the research and find out what the different costs are to help you with the decision. 

Personal Care & Safety Items 

As your loved one loses coordination and memory, they may need various safety devices or items to assist them with tasks of daily living. These might include dining aids, daily reminder products, and items to keep them from falling and wandering. You may also need to install grab bars in the bathroom to help prevent falls.  

The cost of these safety items is often not covered by insurance and will need to be paid out of pocket. As a result, personal care and safety items have a variable cost and will depend on what your loved one needs. Luckily, there are many options for personal care and safety items with ranging costs.  

Home Renovation Costs 

Seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia — whether they live at home or move in with you — will need home modifications to provide a higher level of comfort and safety. Modifications might include a step-in tub, handicap bars in the bathroom, orthopedic bedding, and much more. Loved ones with dementia may also need ramps to help prevent dangerous falls.  

Again, the home renovation costs will depend on your loved one and their stage of dementia. Every situation is different, and you will need to consider what needs to be done to provide a safer and more comfortable living environment for your loved one. 

Emotional Cost 

Of course, the costs that we’ve reviewed don’t touch on the emotional toll that dementia and Alzheimer’s can have on a family. Dementia can cause a number of unique challenges for families and bring up unexpected feelings. It can cause stress, anger, grief, fear, and anxiety. It can cause family caregivers to shift away from their role as a daughter or son as they focus on providing the daily care that their parent needs.  

To help deal with these challenges and emotions, we recommend: 

  • Finding a dementia support group 
  • Talking to other family members 
  • Making sure that you take time to care for yourself 
  • Looking for these signs of caregiver burnout 

The cost of dementia and Alzheimer’s will be different for every family. We hope that this post has helped you consider and prepare for the various expenses that your loved one may incur as a result of their diagnosis. 

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Tags: Alzheimer's & Dementia