Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia continue to have a monumental impact on society. Today, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and this number is projected to climb to nearly 14 million by the year 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Not only that but, 6.5 million of these people will be at the most severe stage of disease meaning their treatment needs and costs will be highest.
The increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease has led to the emergence of a new kind of long-term care: memory care. Here’s a closer look at this distinct type of senior living community, along with how planning ahead can help you pay for memory care should you or someone you love need it in the future.
What is Memory Care?
Today’s seniors have many options when it comes to their living arrangements. Says SeniorAdvisor.com of what distinguishes memory care from the rest, “Memory care is one of the most specialized types of senior living facilities you’ll find…As with other types of assisted living facilities, memory care homes will offer the same assistance with the daily tasks of life, such as providing meals, dispensing medications, and helping seniors get dressed and bathed each day. Where they differ is in providing additional services and care particular to the needs of patients with memory issues.”
If you’ve provided care for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you already know that the needs and challenges associated with the task are manifold. Memory care encompasses all of these unique concerns into one safe, secure, and supportive environment.
The Cost of Memory Care
Alzheimer’s affects individuals, their families, the healthcare industry, and society at large in many ways, including economic. In 2019, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost society approximately $290 billion. Experts predict that this figure will rise to a staggering $1.1 trillion by 2050. Given the intense nature of caring for someone with dementia, it’s not surprising that the cost of memory care can initially seem overwhelming. However, there are some things you can do to prepare for the expense of memory care.
Planning for Memory Care
The most important thing is to start planning ahead as far in advance as possible. Unfortunately, many people wait until they’re diagnosed before they start preparing for what life will look like with Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer’s is a disease of the mind, it can compromise a person’s ability to make sound decisions. Acknowledging the possible need for memory care prior to a diagnosis can help you ensure that your wants and needs are met if a time comes when you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.
There is some good news on this front: Private and government financial resources are available to help you with memory care costs. For example, of the $277 billion spent on caring Americans with dementia in 2018, Medicare and Medicaid covered $186 billion compared to $60 billion in out-of-pocket costs. Many people use retirement benefits and personal savings and assets to make up the difference.
Memory Care Resources
If you’re not sure whether you can afford memory care, a financial advisor, such as a financial planner or estate planning attorney, can offer invaluable counsel aimed at helping you analyze your financial resources, identify tax deductions, and devise an investment portfolio which addresses long-term care needs.
Also worth keeping in mind? If effective treatments and/or a cure is found, memory care costs will decrease. You can help increase the chances of a cure by donating to the cause or by becoming an advocate for increased spending on research and care. Of the need for a combination of these two elements, Alzheimer’s Association director of scientific programs and outreach Keith Fargo told WebMD, "We must continue to attack Alzheimer's through a multidimensional approach that advances research while also improving support for people with the disease and their caregivers.”
Lastly, it's important to recognize that the memory care costs aren’t just about where to live, but also about how to live: In addition to being built specifically to serve people with dementia and the behavioral issues associated with it, the right memory care community can offer an enhanced quality of life to residents—not to mention better peace of mind for their family members. Researching what services and amenities are offered, reading the reviews, confirming whether a particular community takes Medicare and/or your insurance, and visiting in person can all help you identify the memory care center where your investment will go the furthest.
Episcopal Church Home (ECH) is at the forefront of memory care in the Louisville area, and we’re delighted to announce our two newly renovated memory care communities: Reed and West. Designed for seniors with early-stage cognitive loss who are still mostly able to live on their own, these are a perfect option for many older adults because they support optimal independence while affording access to memory care services. As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), ECH also comprises the Marmion neighborhood, which offers 24-hour skilled nursing with memory support. For more information about ECH or to schedule a tour, click here.