Thousands of people feel the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in California daily, whether they are living with the disease or caring for a loved one. More than 630,000 people over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s in California. With the rapidly aging population, this number could increase to 840,000 by 2025. There are several Alzheimer’s assistance programs and plenty of resources available to help affected families.
There is an Alzheimer’s Association Chapter in Orange County to offer assistance to Alzheimer’s patients along with their families and health care providers through education, research, support groups, caregiver information, and 24-hour help lines. There are more than a dozen facilities and health care options in the Irvine area offering Alzheimer’s care, including the Best of 2017 Senior Living on SeniorAdvisor.com: Atria Golden Creek. Other highly rated options include Atria Woodbridge, Premier Senior Care, Regents Point, Irvine Cottage, and Exclusive Eldercare.
In the United States, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and this number could grow to almost 16 million by 2050.
Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth leading cause of death in California.
The number of deaths from this disease has grown by 186 percent since 2000.
Nearly 1.6 million caregivers spent 1.8 million hours unpaid to care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
The dollar value of this unpaid Alzheimer’s care is an estimated $23 billion.
The stress of caregiving also increased the cost of their health care nearly $99 million in 2016.
There are various types of care available including in-home care with visiting medical professionals, day care programs, or live-in residential care at a skilled nursing facility with a memory care unit. Some memory care units are stand-alone communities or are a part of other nursing homes.
Alzheimer’s care requires constant, active supervision. The patient also needs to feel as comfortable as possible by trying to keep the environment consistent and recognizable. Patients need to be watched to prevent falls and wandering, which are both common. 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 soaring with an aging Baby Boomer population. The Fiscal Times recently reported that the cost of Alzheimer’s care had exceeded $226 billion in the United States. It’s hard to break down the cost per patient because of varying costs per location, differing care options, and Alzheimer’s care costs are included in the skilled nursing care costs in these surveys and not separated.
Genworth recently performed a 2016 Cost of Care Survey. The national median monthly cost for nursing home care was $6,844 for a shared room and $7,698 for a private room. For Orange County, the median monthly costs were more with semi-private rooms costing around $7,734 and private rooms averaging $12,471. The price tag for these rooms could increase to $10,394 and $16,760 per month in the next ten years.
Quality care comes with a high price tag, and patients can live with Alzheimer’s for a long time thus adding to these costs. Some families may have to pay out of their savings accounts or provide unpaid care to manage care. There are some ways to save money. You can get the same quality care and save by choosing a few different options.
By having a roommate at a nursing care facility, you can decrease your loved one’s health care expenses. Using the figures from the Genworth’s findings above, semi-private rooms cost approximately $4,700 less a month than private rooms, saving nearly $57,000 a year! However, some Alzheimer’s patients do not do well with a roommate because there will also be additional visitors. When deciding on a care facility, check their policies and opinions on roommates for Alzheimer’s patients.
If your loved one lives at home, you may need care while you go to work. An adult day program can provide respite care while you are at work. These programs offer supervised, medical care along with interactive and engaging activities. The Alzheimer’s Family Services Center in Orange County offers an adult day program specifically for individuals with the earliest form of Alzheimer’s disease. The New Connections Club provides therapies to assist with memory, off-site outings, and more socialization. They also have Social Day Care for individuals with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease for direct and constant supervision along with engaging activities.
Sultan Adult Day Health Care offers programs therapeutic activities and health-related services. Having a loved one live at home versus having residential care can save you tremendously. However, you will also have to provide nighttime and weekend care in addition to the adult day programs.
If your parent or loved one has a long-term care insurance policy, it should cover Alzheimer’s care costs. Talk to your insurance agent to determine policy limits, coverage, and any gaps in the policy. Make sure to keep up with this payment to avoid a coverage lapse. 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 for assistance with medical bills. To see eligibility requirements and to apply, visit one of the local offices in either Orange or LA County.
Low-income seniors also consider Medicaid to cover nursing home care costs. This federal-state program is an option for patients with minimal savings and no long-term care insurance. Your assets determine your eligibility, and your car and primary home are not included in your asset calculations. For more information on Medicaid in California or to apply, visit the state’s benefits page, Medi-Cali, or visit a local agency in Orange County, if you prefer to do so in person.
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