Alzheimer’s disease is a daily reality for thousands in North Carolina, whether they are living with it or caring for a loved one. More than 160,000 people over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease in North Carolina. By 2025, the total could increase by 31.3 percent to 210,000 due to the rapidly aging population. There are a variety of programs and groups available in Durham to help support families and patients with Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a chapter in the Durham area, which offers assistance to Alzheimer’s patients and families through education, support groups, caregiver resources, research, and 24-hour assistance. There are several Alzheimer’s nursing home care facilities in Durham, including these highly rated ones on SeniorAdvisor.com: Brookdale Durham, Seasons at Southpoint, Carillon Assisted Living, Crawley Family Care, and Spring Arbor of Durham.
Over 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and that number could increase to nearly 16 million by 2050.
Nearly one in every three seniors that die each year have either Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in North Carolina.
Approximately 459,000 caregivers spent around 5.2 million hours unpaid to assist a loved one with Alzheimer’s care in 2016.
The total value of this unpaid care is estimated to be about $6.6 billion.
Caregiving can be stressful, which resulted in an increase of caregiver-related health costs by nearly $2.96 million.
A family can choose from a variety of care options for the Alzheimer’s patient including day care programs, in-home care with visiting nurses, or residential, skilled nursing homes. Some memory care units are separate facilities while some nursing homes just have different wings for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s care requires constant, active supervision to prevent falls and wandering. The patient also needs to feel as comfortable as possible by trying to keep the environment consistent and recognizable. Alzheimer’s patients may also need assistance eating, and they need monitoring to ensure they eat and drink enough throughout the day.
The cost of Alzheimer’s care is growing along with the aging Baby Boomer population. The Fiscal Times reported that the cost of Alzheimer’s care had exceeded $226 billion in the United States alone. It’s hard to determine what the cost is per patient because prices vary in different locations, there are various types of care, and in these surveys, Alzheimer’s care costs are grouped in the skilled nursing care category and not separated.
Genworth recently performed a 2016 Cost of Care Survey. The US median cost for nursing home care averaged $6,844 a month for a semi-private room and $7,698 for a private room. The Durham area median monthly costs were slightly higher with semi-private rooms averaging around $6,935 and private rooms averaging $7,908. In ten years, the costs could soar to $9,320 and $10,628 per month respectively.
Unfortunately, good care comes with a hefty price tag, and patients can live with Alzheimer’s for years racking up these costs. To pay these bills, some families may have to tap into their savings accounts or provide unpaid care to minimize costs. There are some ways to save money. You can still get the quality care but save money by looking at a few alternatives.
By selecting a semi-private room at a nursing care facility, you can decrease your loved one’s health care bill. With the averages from the Genworth’s findings above, semi-private rooms cost about $973 lower per month than private rooms, which is a potential savings of about $11,676 a year! However, some Alzheimer’s patients have difficulties with a roommate because there will also be additional visitors along with the other patient. Ask the nursing home about their policies and experience with roommates for Alzheimer’s patients.
If your loved one lives at home, you may need care while you go to work or a break from care. An adult day program can provide supervised, respite care while you are at work or taking a break. These programs offer medical care along with interactive and engaging activities to keep patients active. Durham Center for Senior Life provides a structured day program for older adults to provide independence. They offer a safe environment and provide supervised care. Activities include trivia games, sensory stimulation, crafts, games, relaxation in the garden, and physical exercise.
By having a loved one live at home versus residential care, you can save on medical costs significantly. Remember that you will also need care at night and during the weekend care along with the adult day programs.
A long-term care insurance policy should cover Alzheimer’s care costs if your loved one purchased a policy. Talk to your insurance agent to discuss the policy limits, coverage, and any stipulations in the policy. Don’t let the coverage lapse by forgetting to make a payment. Signing up for automatic payments will ensure payment is current.
For veterans and widows of veterans who served during a time of war (does not have to be in conflict), they may be eligible for the VA Aid & Attendance pension to help pay for medical bills. To see eligibility requirements and to apply, visit one of North Carolina’s VA websites or a local office.
Medicaid is an option for low-income seniors that do not have long-term care insurance. This program is run by the government and is an option for patients with minimal savings. Your assets determine if you are eligible. However, your asset calculations do not include your car and primary home. To find out more about Medicaid in North Carolina or to apply, visit the state’s benefits page. You can also visit a regional office of the Health and Human Services Department if you prefer to apply in person or talk directly to a representative.
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