Managing financial concerns with Alzheimer’s

Preparing for important financial decisions1,2

Dealing with financial matters can be stressful for anyone. But when you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it can be especially challenging. One study showed that 56% of Alzheimer’s caregivers reported feeling strain concerning financial issues. Whether you’re handling your loved one’s bank accounts and financial documents or figuring out how to pay for care, learning about available resources and planning carefully can help make the process a little bit easier.

It’s important to plan ahead2

As any good banker will tell you, when it comes to financial matters like investments, it’s never too early to start planning. The same goes for handling your loved one’s finances. When your loved one is diagnosed, it’s time to start gathering the financial and legal documents you’ll need. These documents include living wills, medical and durable powers of attorney, bank account information, insurance and pension policies, and bills.

It’s also important to discuss financial matters with your loved one soon after the diagnosis. That way, your loved one can still understand the discussion and make his or her wishes known. Have these discussions early, so you don’t have to try and figure out what he or she would have wanted down the road.

Another way to plan ahead is to seek help from experts. Whether you have questions about paying for treatment or about necessary financial and legal documents, talking to a lawyer, accountant, and/or financial planner can help you stay on track.

Potential costs for your loved one’s care2

Medical care for people with Alzheimer’s can be expensive. There are many things your loved one may need, including:

  • Treatment for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and for other medical conditions
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Prescription drugs
  • Care services, such as an Alzheimer’s community or in-home care

It’s important to understand the costs, so you have a plan to pay for the care your loved one needs.

Ways to pay for your loved one’s care2

While caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can be expensive, there are many options out there to help you with financial assistance. It’s important to know your options, so you can figure out a plan that works for you and your family:

  • Health insurance – One common way for people to pay for Alzheimer’s care is with health insurance. If your loved one is aged 65 or older, there’s a good chance that his or her primary coverage will be Medicare, though some sort of private insurance is also a possibility. The most important thing for you to understand about health insurance is what exactly it does and does not cover. Some insurance plans, including Medicare, don’t cover certain forms of nursing care that you may want for your loved one. If you have questions about whether something is covered under Medicare, medicare.gov and shiptalk.org are good places to check
  • Other types of insurance – Other forms of coverage, including disability insurance, long-term care, or life insurance can possibly be used to help cover the costs of Alzheimer’s care. When your loved one is diagnosed, review all of his or her insurance plans to determine whether they are options that can help pay the costs of care
  • Retirement accounts – If your loved one has money in retirement accounts like annuities, pension plans, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), they can potentially be used to help cover the costs of care. It’s important to check the details of the plan to see what amount of money can be taken and whether there will be penalties involved for removing money early. This is especially important if your loved one is diagnosed before retirement age
  • Additional assets – Your loved one may have other assets that can be leveraged to help pay for care, including money from savings accounts, investments like stocks and bonds, and personal property like homes and valuable items. Talk to your loved one early after diagnosis to see what kind of personal assets he or she has and to find out what is OK to use to help pay for care
  • Government assistance – State and federal governments have several programs to help people with progressive illnesses like Alzheimer’s, especially those with lower  incomes. Some of these programs include social security disability income, supplemental security income, and Medicaid. As always, it’s important to look into these programs to see which ones, if any, can be used to help cover the costs of care. To learn more about these programs, visit ssa.gov and medicaid.gov

Paying for your loved one’s care may not be easy, but understanding what resources are out there is a good first step.

Learn more about legal and financial documents you may need. 

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About Good Thinking

Good Thinking is for caregivers like you, supporting you as you face the daily challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. We’re here to provide information and inspiration to help you take care of yourself and enhance the care you give every day.