According to a new report published in the journal Neurology, the number of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States will triple by the year 2050. By then the number of persons affected is expected to grow from 4.7 million to 13.8 million. This is well above what was previously predicted.
Alzheimer ’s disease affects a person’s memory and brain ability, causes a shrinking of the brain and eventually leads to the inability of the person to care for him or herself and – in severe cases – to total incapacity. The risk of getting the disease increases with age. Therefore, the new report paints a sad picture for the future as more persons reach 65 and older with the aging of the “Baby Boomer” generation.
A shocking aspect of the new report is the financial burden that large numbers with this disease will bring. Currently the Alzheimer’s Association has estimated that it costs $200 billion each year to provide care to Alzheimer’s patients. However, they are predicting the cost to grow to $1 trillion a year by 2050, bringing an incredible strain on the Nation’s health care systems, including Medicare and Medicaid. Costs to the patient and their families will continue to grow as well.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The disease is progressive, and over time the loss of cognitive ability brings about the need for long-term care. If a family is equipped to provide such care at home, it will require up to 24/7 attention. In many cases the level of care is more than a spouse or family can provide, requiring nursing home help.
The costs of nursing home care also continue to rise. In 2012 the average cost of a month in a nursing home was over $6000 per month. This has shocked many: “My mom thought she had plenty of money to take care of herself and leave some to me,” a family member of an Alzheimer’s patient said. “I’m sad to see her in this situation, and I don’t like seeing my inheritance disappear.” (August 2012, Indiana Economic Digest, Costs of Nursing Home Fees Shock Many.)
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you should be prepared with the proper powers of attorney, estate plan and long term care plan. It is possible to preserve assets and qualify for Medicaid while still getting needed care.