Baby Boomers got some bad news this week: Some 10 million of them will likely be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease during their lifetime, according to a report released by the Alzheimer’s Association.
There is no cure for this brain affliction, which is considered the seventh deadliest disease in the country. But, because a person with Alzheimer’s can live for twenty years, or more, with limited mental faculties, all while in good physical health, the financial burdens of care can be significant. On average, treatment lasts 12 years and costs around $174,000. And, it can easily be more. “This is a costly disease,” says Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of the Alzheimer Foundation of America in New York. “Some of the money may come from Medicare and Medicaid, but some of the money is going to be the family’s responsibility. Families are spending $18,000 to $30,000 out of pocket a year for their loved ones.”
Starting to plan now for potential elder care responsibilities is a good way to quell Alzheimer's disease anxiety. “Families are extremely fearful of outliving their money,” says Karen Thomas, president of Oxford Healthcare, the home health company based in Springfield, Mo. “The best preparation you can do is to delay nursing home placement for as long as you can provide safety at home.”
Having a sound financial strategy is therefore vital, says Joy Leverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner. Get your parent’s estate plans in order with an elder law attorney and then make an appointment with a financial gerontologist, which is a certified financial planner who specializes in the golden years. “They understand longevity issues and can analyze these long-term costs,” says Leverde. Next, buy the right long term care insurance. “It provides assistance with the basic support tasks of daily living," says Leverde. "It’s more than nursing home care. It’s a buffer to protect your long-term finances.” Genworth and John Hancock are two long-term insurance companies, Martin Sabel a financial gerontologist in Houston, Texas, recommends.