What is the Lifetime Cost of Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s?

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Dementia takes an enormous emotional toll on the people with the disease and their caregivers, but it can also be a large financial burden. This year, data reported by the Alzheimer’s Association revealed that the total payments for Alzheimer’s (or other forms of dementia) care in the United States are predicted to surpass $277 billion, an increase of approximately $20 billion from the previous year.

On an individual level, while the financial demands of getting older have never been cheap, Alzheimer’s has the ability to drain a lifetime’s worth of savings. Last year, the average lifetime cost of care for a person with Alzheimer’s was $329,360, according the Alzheimer’s Association, with families bearing 70 percent of that cost through out-of-pocket expenses and the value of unpaid care through loved ones acting as caregivers.

“It is terrifying,” said Linda Winter in an interview with the Mercury News. At age 64, Winter has spent more than $350,000 so far paying for care for her 65-year-old husband with Alzheimer’s disease, who no longer recognizes her. “Could I end up in old age under a bridge in a cardboard box? That is my fear.”

Keith Fargo, Ph.D., the director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association, warns that these costs are going to continue to rise.

“This year’s report illuminates the growing cost and impact of Alzheimer’s on the nation’s health care system, and also points to the growing financial, physical and emotional toll on families facing this disease,” said Fargo in a press release. “Soaring prevalence, rising mortality rates and lack of an effective treatment all lead to enormous costs to society. Alzheimer’s is a burden that’s only going to get worse.”

Genworth Financial breaks down the average costs of long-term care by service:

  • The average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $235 per day, or $83,775 per year
  • The average cost of a private room in a nursing home is $267 per day, or $97,455 per year
  • The average cost of a private room in an assisted living facility is $123 per day, or $45,000 per year
  • The average cost of a home health aid is $135 per day, or $49,192 per year
  • The average cost of adult day health care services is $70 per day, or $18,200 per year.

However, the Alzheimer’s Association report states that getting an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s during the mild cognitive impairment stage of the disease could save the nation up to $7.9 trillion in health and long-term care expenditures. Early diagnosis of the disease can also provide personal benefits for individuals and families. Read Samada’s guide on how to pay for long-term care for more tips and information.

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