July 12, 2016
The Devastating Cost of Dementia
Being diagnosed with dementia can cost you over $750,000 according to a recent USA Today article. Think about your situation, if you were diagnosed with dementia, do you have $750,000 worth of assets ready to pay for long-term care costs?
The difficulty with dementia is not just the emotional cost of watching the person you have known all your life become someone different, but also the financial cost. Just because a person’s brain function weakens doesn’t mean a person’s overall health weakens. There have been plenty of cases where a person will live as many as eight years or more after first being diagnosed with dementia or some related disorder like Alzheimer’s.
Why does that matter? As dementia progresses in a person, he or she will require more and more care that a nursing home can provide. And it could get to a point where that care need is for virtually everything, which Medicare and most long-term care insurance policies can’t cover. When you consider that nursing home care can cost (more commonly) around $90,000 per year, over the course of eight years living with dementia that cost could be $750,000.
Can your nest egg handle that? Fortunately, Medicaid can offset much of the cost, but unfortunately, Medicaid rules are different from state to state – so while the goal may be to keep people in their own homes as much as possible, differing rules may force some people to move to another state in order to better ensure eligibility for Medicaid long-term care benefits. Whether you are able to get Medicaid to pay for long-term care or not, the costs incurred to keep your loved one cared for and relatively comfortable can be appalling.
So whether you are in need of that care in the short-term, or if you are the child who might need to help pay the bill for the care, it is a good idea to meet with a certified elder-law attorney in your area who can help you with your estate plan and give you the best options for your situation in the expectation that dementia may hit your family one way or another. A good estate plan will account for various contingencies in these situations, so you can make sure you have some of your nest egg protected while also being able to meet the financial needs of caring for your elderly loved one when he or she needs it.