Long-term financial planning is important for everyone, but it is essential if you are coping with the expense of a long-term illness such as Alzheimer's disease. Many people pay careful attention to their health after they are diagnosed with Alzheimer's. They research their treatment plan, take their medications on schedule, and consult with their doctors regularly. However, it may take some time for people with Alzheimer's disease and caregivers to realize that a progressive illness like Alzheimer's can have a tremendous effect on their financial well-being.
It's critical to educate yourself about government-backed health coverage through Medicare and Medicaid.
Rosemary Orange, 53, of Ottawa, Ontario, suspected something was wrong with her 83-year-old mother, Sylvia. "She'd go shopping and forget what she was doing," Orange says. "So she'd come right back home without buying anything."
Several months later, Orange's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, a type of dementia that affects nearly 36 million people worldwide. That rate is expected to nearly double in the next 20 years, according to the World Health Organization.
What can you do if a parent...
This article offers some basic information on the programs available to help you financially manage your treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
Developing a Plan
Alzheimer's disease gets worse over time, and dealing with a progressive illness is difficult. There is no way to know how you will feel or what you will be able to do days, months, or years from now. But for your own security and that of your family, you need to plan ahead, knowing that Alzheimer's disease will lead to increasing disability. There are professional financial managers and medical lawyers who focus on financial planning for people with long-term or progressive illnesses. Ask your doctor for a referral, or speak with a national association or support group to find a reputable professional in this area.
If you are insured, either through your employer or a retirement policy, read all of the policies pertaining to long-term/progressive illnesses and make sure you understand what is and isn't covered by your plan. If you are unsure about the language or terminology, contact the personnel department or your financial planner.
If you are unemployed and don't have coverage, you should look for the highest level of coverage that you can afford. The Alzheimer's Association may be able to give you a list of insurers with a high level of Alzheimer's coverage.
If you are age 65 or over, you qualify for Medicare. You can supplement this insurance with a "Medigap" policy available through a private insurer. Note also that many states have prescription assistance/reimbursement programs for low-income senior citizens.
If you are disabled but too young to qualify for Social Security, you may be eligible to receive a form of Medicare for the disabled.
If you cannot get insurance and your income is low, you may qualify for Medicaid, a government "safety net" program that pays for medical costs that exceed a person's ability to pay.