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The Alzheimer’s Epidemic and Memory Care

There is usually a long preclinical phase to Alzheimer’s disease, which gradually worsens over time. Initial symptoms are often mistaken for normal aging and include problems with language, mood swings, disorientation, loss of motivation, poor self-care, and behavioral issues. There are no treatments to stop or reverse the disease progression.

Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 70 percent of dementia cases and is one of the most financially costly diseases. Usually, onset occurs in seniors over the age of 65, and the average life expectancy is 3 to 9 years though the speed of the disease’s progression can vary.

Estimates are that more than 14 million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by the year 2050, and the financial cost to the United States will total more than 1.1 trillion dollars. Memory and medical care for those with Alzheimer’s will also create challenges for their families. starting with the most basic of questions about memory care, understanding what it is, and what it entails.

Memory Care Programs and Costs

Memory care for seniors with advanced Alzheimer’s is best provided in state-licensed assisted living residences or nursing homes with a secure unit designed specifically for memory patients. The unit may be a floor or separate building with security and alert devices to help prevent a patient from wandering. Memory care facilities offer programs designed to keep executive brain function active and engaged while offering cognitive behavioral therapies specifically for memory challenges. However, these facilities are expensive, and with the Alzheimer’s survival rate of 3 to 9 years post-diagnosis, many families are not able to pay the associated costs of memory care.

Because of these costs, many families become unpaid caregivers to their loved ones. In the earlier stages of the disease progression, it’s a workable situation. But before long, this selfless act and huge undertaking can take a toll on the caregiver leading to inadequate care for the patient. During this family caregiver stage, exploring the longer-term options for memory care and expenses becomes necessary. Average costs are nearly five times more than standard care.

Is your loved one a US Veteran? Research the Aid & Attendance benefits available to them. Not a veteran? Then explore options for long-term care health insurance. Another option is to learn how to spend down assets to qualify for Medicaid. However, this must be done very carefully and with the understanding that even with Medicaid, there are, and will continue to be, long wait lists to get into memory care facilities. If you’re fortunate enough to afford private pay for memory care, it’s still important to investigate options to identify the right facility for your loved one.

How to Know when Professional Memory Care is Needed

Some of the more common indicators are forgetting things like:

  • Taking medication
  • Setting alarm codes
  • Locking doors
  • Performing basic household chores
  • Eating meals, showering, or changing clothes

Psychological changes include:

  • Consistent feelings of anger or confusion
  • Withdrawal or depression
  • Personality changes such as mistrusting others

Creating a Memory Care Plan

All people living with dementia should make plans with their family and elder law attorney in the early stages of disease progression so they know how to handle medical and memory issues in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. Planning provides a sense of relief, knowing things will proceed as documented.

Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning. Our elder law firm is dedicated to informing you of issues affecting seniors who may be experiencing declining health. Our elder law attorneys help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care. Contact us at (352) 565-7737! We look forward to hearing from you!

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