Paying for Dementia Care: 5 Ways to Ease the Financial Burden
About 10 percent of Americans over 65 years old, or 5.7 million Americans, live with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
People living with dementia and their families face many challenging situations, not the least of which is paying for dementia care. Dementia and Alzheimer’s care isn’t cheap, and the financial burden can be stressful during an already difficult time. Fortunately, paying for dementia care doesn’t have to drain your family’s finances or prevent you from receiving excellent care. Many people can access public and private resources to help cover the costs of helpful resources.
Dementia Care Costs: How Much Can You Expect to Pay?
Dementia care costs vary widely based on the individual, what form of dementia they have and how quickly the disease progresses. Some research shows that the cost of care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can cost nearly $300,000 just for the last five years of their life, compared to $175,136 for heart disease and $173,383 for cancer. It’s also important to keep in mind that people with Alzheimer’s can live for 20 years after their diagnosis, which can greatly increase care costs.
However, many individuals with early-stage dementia require little to no support, meaning your financial burden will be far lower during that time. It’s the middle and late stages of the disease that will require the highest degree of support, increasing the financial burden.
To ensure you’re prepared for both short-term and long-term financial needs, you should begin looking into how you and your family will pay for dementia care early. Don’t wait until the middle or late stages of the disease. In addition to your personal resources, here are a few financial support programs that could help you pay for dementia care.
Programs that Help Pay for Dementia Care
Medicare will help cover most people’s dementia care costs in one way or another. Medicare is the federal program that assists eligible older adults and others with healthcare costs. In general, if a person qualifies for Social Security benefits, he or she will also receive Medicare. Everyone should apply for Medicare three months prior to their 65th birthday.
Medicare typically pays for inpatient hospital care and some doctors’ fees for people with dementia. Those who purchase Medicare Part D can also receive assistance with prescription drug coverage. In addition, Medicare pays for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care and for hospice care. The program does not, however, cover long-term memory care costs.
Medicaid is a publicly funded program administered by your state of residence. Medicaid helps cover healthcare costs for people with low income or asset levels. A person with dementia who has used nearly all of their personal resources for Alzheimer’s care costs may be able to access help from Medicaid.
While fewer people qualify for Medicaid, the program typically provides a higher degree of coverage, so if you can use Medicaid, you should. Get more information about Medicaid in Texas here.
Veterans Affairs Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) covers some memory care costs for qualifying military veterans. The VA may help pay for:
- Home-based primary care
- A homemaker or home health aide
- Respite care
- Adult day care
- An outpatient clinic
- An inpatient hospital
- A nursing home
- Palliative care or hospice care.
Spouses of military veterans with dementia may also receive support through the VA.
Through its extensive healthcare system, the VA can also help cover doctor’s appointments, dental care and vision care. Most people who served in active naval, military or air service and did not receive a dishonorable discharge will qualify for VA benefits and should check with the department as soon as possible.
Long-Term Care Insurance
While less commonly used than many other financial options, long-term care insurance can provide financial assistance for elderly care to people in many different personal situations. A long-term care policy can offer people more options for assisted living and memory care than Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans Affairs, which are all public programs.
Long-term care insurance can also help pay for dementia care without regard to the financial holdings of the insured. The primary benefit of long-term care insurance is the choice it provides beyond Medicaid-approved options.
To make the most of a long-term care insurance policy, you should purchase the policy earlier. The younger and healthier you are when you purchase the insurance, the less expensive it will be. Most people who rely on long-term care insurance purchase a policy in their mid-50s or before.
State or Local Assistance Programs
Some states offer financial support for people with dementia through a general fund not managed by Medicaid. Many of these programs operate within strict guidelines, such as only providing in-home dementia care or only paying for regular visits to an adult recreation center. In Texas, memory care support falls under the Community Care for Aged/Disabled program. People interested in this option should contact Texas Health and Human Services.
Local governments or municipalities and nonprofit organizations may also offer financial support. To learn more about these options, contact the closest chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association or the closest Area Agency on Aging in Texas.
Other Financial Support Options
If none of the other support sources is available or you need additional help, you can consider the following:
Grants for Tribal Organizations
Older American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians may qualify for additional support from tribal or indigenous agencies.
Tax Credits or Refunds
The Tax Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled allows adult children of people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia to claim their parent as a dependent, helping families save thousands of dollars on income taxes. The Child and Dependent Care Credit may also apply to qualifying families. In addition, people may be able to deduct the cost of memory care or home modifications from their taxes.
Under a reverse mortgage, a bank or other lender allows homeowners over age 65 to borrow against the equity in their house while still retaining the title to the property. Families considering this option should talk with their financial adviser about whether a reverse mortgage is right for their situation.
Some lenders provide loans specifically to help families cover the costs of Texas Alzheimer’s care. Anytime you are considering a loan, it’s a good idea to talk to a financial professional and to shop around for the best rates and terms.
Quality Dementia Care in Texas
Paying for dementia care can be stressful, but ultimately, finding the right dementia or memory care community can greatly alleviate the burden on you and your family. Memory care can provide a more supportive, positive lifestyle for your relative or friend with dementia, giving them the care and attention they need to enjoy every day.
If you’re looking for memory care in Texas, consider Villages of Windcrest. We provide a comfortable home for residents with dementia in Fredericksburg, Texas, along with an expert staff that can provide the personalized support every individual needs. For more information on our services, contact us online or download our free Memory Care Guide.