Do you have the answers to key Alzheimers questions? Chris Orestis, CEO of Life Care Funding, has some Alzheimers questions for you to think about. This article was originally published in his senior living column in the Portland Press herald.

Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the most common conditions impacting seniors in the United States. Over 5.2 million Americans are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and with a half million people dying annually (more than prostate and breast cancer combined) it is now the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 and over.

alzheimers questionsAlzheimers questions

This is a particularly insidious affliction because it not only robs someone of their memories but it has a devastating impact on the entire family. So often, the need to provide long-term care support falls on family members in a number of ways. If you have a loved one now suffering from Alzheimer’s you may be asking yourself some very tough questions:

  • Am I going to be the primary caregiver?
  • Am I  now responsible for finding appropriate care?
  • Do I need to provide financial support while trying to figure out how to pay for long-term care?

For many families the answer to these questions is “YES” to all of the above.

Those suffering with Alzheimer’s require a very specific form of care that is meant to address both their medical needs and their safety. You will want to seek out specifically licensed memory care facilities that are equipped to provide 24-hour care and protection for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. These facilities have been designed to provide cognitive-centric programs, medications, nutrition, and a safe/secure living environment. But, because this is a more intensive care environment than an assisted living community or a nursing home it can be very expensive.

Some of the costs of care such as approved medications can be covered by Medicare, but many of the costs of memory care are private pay because they are considered non-medical. Assistance with activities of daily living (ADL’s) and providing a 24-hour secure environment to prevent wandering are both examples of non-medical necessities that must be paid for out-of-pocket. Medicaid can also pay for care for those who financially qualify as being below the poverty line and with advanced enough conditions to also qualify medically.

Four key areas you will want to focus on for your loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s:
1. Recognizing if you or a family member is acting as a caregiver and the need to access professional care.
2. Locating licensed memory care facilities that will provide an appropriate and secure environment.
3. Cost of care is expensive and you need to understand what is covered by Medicare, what is going to be out-of-pocket as “private pay,” and if you will be able to financially and medically qualify for Medicaid.
4. You must get the legal framework in place to be able to act on behalf of your loved once they have lost the capacity to act with a “sound mind.” This means establishing the right family member as the “Power of Attorney” or if things have progressed beyond the point that a voluntary POA can be established it would become necessary to get a court ordered “conservatorship” to make sure financial and health decisions are being managed correctly.

Long-term care is a topic ignored by most people until they find themselves in a crisis situation. The sooner one is armed with information about how long-term care works, how to pay for it, and the legal implications they are facing, the better the outcome will be for everyone involved.

Chris Orestis is a Maine Senior Guide resource and  CEO of Life Care Funding, a company that converts life insurance to pay for assisted living and home care. Alzheimers questions was originally part of his senior living column for the Portland Press Herald.