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Combating the dementia scourge in the nation – Dealing with its financial implications

For caregivers, families and society, different forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s can be financially and emotionally ruining. If you take a look at the bigger picture, you will find that the forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease usually generate catastrophic economic, healthcare and social impacts and these effects will be growing at a rapid pace. There is no doubt about the fact that Alzheimer’s is a disease which is the most common type of dementia or a neurodegenerative disease which gradually destroys memories and all thinking skills.

Alzheimer’s begins 5, 10 or 20 years before the symptoms start appearing. The initial symptoms begin with difficulty in being able to remember things and later on in the advanced stages, there are symptoms like mood changes, behavioral changes, confusion, inability to recognize familiar faces and perform day-to-day tasks. In short, Alzheimer’s can be fatal at one point of time.

Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the US which has no cure

According to Washington Post, Alzheimer’s has been ranked as the third biggest cause of death, the first and second being heart diseases and cancer respectively. Alzheimer’s claimed more than 500,000 lives in the year 2014 which means more than 1456 people in a day. In the United States of America, 5.8 million people are presently living with Alzheimer’s and in other countries like Australia, more than 3 million people are taking resort to disability home care services as this disease ultimately leads to disability of a kind. The total number of Americans to suffer from this disease is said to triple to 18 million by the time its 2050.

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There is someone in the US who develops dementia or Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds and by 2050 this is predicted to increase to every 32 seconds. Isn’t this a ghastly statistics for the country that is already going through a sluggish economy? When a person gets Alzheimer’s, it isn’t just a disease for the patient but the entire family gets affected in more ways than one.

In the year 2017, 16.5 million caregivers within the family offered an approximate 18.5 billion hours of unpaid care for their family members and loved ones who were suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. According to a new report on Alzheimer’s, the nation has underestimated the public costs and effects of epidemic and major social trends have negative implications for the nation’s capacity to cope with Alzheimer’s in the coming years.

Alzheimer’s is the costliest disease in the nation

It is true that Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the nation as the financial costs that have to be borne by the government as a whole and the family of the patient are enormous. As per recent reports, in the year 2017, the total yearly out-of-pocket payments in America for long-term care, healthcare and hospice care for individuals with Alzheimer’s is predicted to total at $260 billion in 2017 and it is poised to soar up to $1.2 trillion by 2050 in case there is no cure planned by the health professionals.

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Medicaid and Medicare usually cover $175 billion or around 70% of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. If you consider Medicaid, their payments are 24 times higher for all those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s as compared to those who aren’t suffering from the same. The payments of Medicare are thrice higher on an average. Future predictions reveal that Alzheimer’s and dementia will increase Medicaid and Medicare by 330% by the year 2050.

Is there enough federal research funding for this problem?

The community of researchers believe that it will be easier to halt the spread of this disease within the next decade if there is sufficient amount of research funding and several other reforms to expedite the drug pipeline. The research funding of the government is just a fraction of what is given for other major diseases. More than $250 billion is spent out of pocket ever year on healthcare and on dementia care Sunshine Coast, which is 180 times more than the amount that is spent on looking for a cure for the disease.

For each dollar that the government spends on the costs of Alzheimer’s, they invest even less than a penny to find a cure. It is vital that the federal officials make it a national priority to fight this disease and dedicate sufficient resources to researching for a cure. There is a need to speed up the clinical trials to make sure participants reflect how diverse patients might be through this disease. Alzheimer’s is ultimately a global crisis which is occuring all over the world and hence it needs a global solution. If it is not prevented and stopped, it will probably become a grave threat to the finances and health of the world.

Previously when the world came across such catastrophic challenges, the countries have organized noteworthy resources with clear objectives and goals to achieve few of the greatest results. The world has also fought against tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The efforts put in by the federal government have paid back in the form of several lives saved and economic growth and development.

The formation of the National Plan to address Alzheimer’s

Though it was sceptical about whether or not the national plan made to address Alzheimer’s would be successful, yet there have been several accomplishments which need mention. Read on to know on the few highlights of what was achieved by the national plan:

  • The government site of Alzheimer’s was launched (http://www.alzheimers.gov) which is a well-received website that was designed to spread awareness and connect all the patients who were affected by Alzheimer’s to vital and effective resources which could assist them.
  • Grants were issued by Health Resources and Services Administration to offer training to more than 10,000 providers of health care. The multiple topics ranged from diagnosis of dementia to behavioral management for patients living with dementia.
  • Financing of several research projects which included 2 major clinical trials.
  • Meeting of the funders were held at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. This was done with a goal to understand the research endeavours, to boost collaboration, avoid duplication of efforts and to utilize resources.

What is to be expected from the National Plan?

Apart from analysing the success outlined throughout the year, there were also reports on measures and other milestones for deciding whether or not the plan is set on the right track and whether or not it is reaching its goal. Here’s what to be expected:

  • An Alzheimer’s curriculum was developed for the physicians to assist them in offering the highest quality care for dementia patients
  • Improved detection of elderly abuse among patients of Alzheimer’s through providers of programs and through aging networks.
  • There was created an assembly of an expert panel who could study the needs and requirements of those who are going through the later stages of the disease.
  • Release of the second in a single series of roadmaps which have the aim of advanced cognitive health as an integral part of public health.
  • Better public outreach of Dementia Capability Toolkit to join hands with the local and state health networks and offer the best possible dementia care to such areas.

It is an understatement to just say that what we face is a mammoth task. For every $28,000 Medicaid and Medicare that is spent on Alzheimer’s, the federal institutes only spend $100 on research. So, unless there is a cure to be found for this disease, these estimates will keep on increases and may reach the $1 trillion mark by 2050.

Can the individuals advocate and make a difference?

There are times when the burgeoning issue is extremely overwhelming in size as the case of Alzheimer’s and dementia and it is then that we feel that we could make a difference as responsible individuals. We can’t deny that each one of us have the ability to put in some effort to spread awareness and promote the resources which are required to meet the goal of 2025. As there are several advocacy resources, all you need to do is to register with them and get the latest news to voice your best opinion.

Paying for dementia care – Know your options

In order to help you cover the soaring costs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, there are several financial resources. While you can apply for some now, some others can be received only in the near future. Here are few options to take note of:

#1: INSURANCE

For majority of the people who are above 65 years of age, Medicare is certainly the only source of coverage for health care. Nevertheless, a retiree health insurance plan or a group employee plan or a private insurance may also be in place. In case the person living with dementia is less than 65 years of age, he might have private insurance or a group employee health plan. When he wishes to alter policies, you have to get an idea about the time that it will take to be covered under the new policy.

#2: RETIREMENT BENEFITS

Even though the person with dementia has not reached his age of retirement, yet the benefits derived from retirement plans can offer crucial financial resources. IRAs and annuities constitute retirement plans. The person suffering from dementia can withdraw funds from his IRA before 59 and half years of age without having to pay 10% for withdrawing ahead of time.

#3: EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

When the person suffering from Alzheimer’s wishes to continue working despite the initial stages of this disease, he can reap benefits like paid sick leave, flexible spending account, short-term disability and even out-of-pocket medical costs. For getting such benefits, you need to review the handbook of the employer’s benefits, as the specialist what sort of benefits might be available to you and keep everything in written confirmation.

#4: INVESTMENTS, PERSONAL SAVINGS and PROPERTY

Did you know that the personal assets which belong to the person living with dementia can be effective sources of income through which you can keep paying for cure? These personal assets can include stocks, savings account, bonds and real estate. You can also convert equity in your home to income through a borrowing procedure called reverse mortgage. Through this loan, a person above the age of 62 years and convert the equity accumulated in his home to cash while still retaining the ownership of the home. Reverse mortgages don’t have an impact on Medicare and Social Security benefits but they can definitely have an impact on your ability to qualify for government programs.

#5: FEDERAL ASSISTANCE

Besides Medicare, the patient who is living with dementia will also qualify for several other public programs. Such programs either offer long-term care services or offer you income support to the candidates who are eligible for the program. It includes SSDI or Social Security Disability Income for people who are below 65 years of age, SSI or Supplemental Security Income, veteran benefits, Medicaid and tax credits and tax deductions.

#6: COMMUNITY SUPPORT SERVICES

There are several other community organizations which sometimes not only offer low-cost but also free services which often include support groups, respite care, home-delivery of meals and transportation. You can also choose from arrangements of personal care using friends, family, faith communities, neighbors and volunteer groups.

Handling dementia care at the personal level

As soon as you receive a formal diagnosis in hand, sit down with your family members to decide who is supposed to appoint the persons or the caregivers who can handle the family member in a loving condition. With the progress of the disease, there will be multiple decisions that need to be changed regarding finances, housing and everything else. Instead of avoiding a conversation, talk it out as that is the only way to find out a viable solution.

So, it can be safely concluded by saying that dementia and Alzheimer’s is a costly disease and a family that is not much well-off financially can go broke in meeting the needs of the patient and the caregiver. Keep in mind the above-mentioned options so that you can easily have funding options to take resort to during an emergency.

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