In this series of blogs, I will discuss a debilitating condition that many Americans eventually face as they age: dementia.
This is the second of three blogs (yesterday, today, and tomorrow) on this important topic. I hope you find it helpful.
The Cost to the Individual with dementia is difficult to quantify. Because dementia is a progressive condition and one where aging is the greatest risk factor, it is logical that at the beginning and younger stages of dementia, the cost to the individual is minimal. As dementia progresses, so does the need for assistance with daily activities. This assistance often comes in the form of meal preparation, help with grooming and hygiene, transportation assistance, as well as help with many other daily activities. Dementia patients can become so mentally challenged that they may place themselves in dangerous situations, such as roaming neighborhoods and getting lost. While the individual affected by dementia may need only a few hours of help per week at the beginning of symptoms showing, soon they may need around the clock supervision, not only for assistance with daily activities, but to protect them from themselves. The individual’s costs will include medical expenses as well as paying a caregiver.
Caregiving for one with dementia varies depending on the quantity of care required. An in-home caregiver may charge up to $21 per hour or higher. Adult day care can run as high as $18,200 per year or more. When an individual can no longer live alone but is not quite ready for a nursing home, Assisted Living facilities are available but may cost as much as $42,600 per year or more. When around the clock care is needed, a nursing home can cost an individual up to $90,520 per year, or higher. To view costs in other states and national average costs of long term care, see the MetLife Survey of Long Term Care Costs, https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/2012-market-survey-long-term-care-costs.html#keyfindings.
Where the individual with dementia is fortunate enough to have family nearby, the cost to the family member who will often step up to assist the ill loved one with their daily activities is obvious. Again, the process can be gradual and before the helpful family member realizes it, they may find themselves missing work and, finally, quitting their job altogether in order to give proper care to the dementia patient.
The less recognizable cost to the family, however, is the emotional strain that is placed on the family member caregiver. In order to save the family money, many family members will work nearly twenty-four hours, seven days per week. The ramifications are physical, mental and emotional health problems to the caregiver. The medical costs and possible future psychological costs to the caregiver, then, must be considered.
It is important that family members take a step back from the situation and assess this cost. Providing a caregiver with time off every day, week and year is a must to ensure the caregiver’s health. The caregiver must have appropriate support in order to keep caring for the loved one.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.
Part II (tomorrow) will discuss the costs of dementia to our nation.