Alzheimer’s and Estate Planning

Americans legitimately worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease, and for good reason. According to results from a Marist Institute study, Americans fear it more than any other life-threatening disease, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. The same survey also found that if diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Americans most fear losing their ability to care for themselves and burdening others by losing their memory.

The study was conducted by Harris Interactive for MetLife and surveyed 1,007 adults. Since 2006, the share of people who fear developing Alzheimer’s has risen more than other diseases. These concerns tie into the importance of sound retirement and estate plans, which require strategy and proper preparation.

The Cost

All too often, the costs of end-of-life care for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s is underestimated. Unfortunately, it can be substantially more expensive than treating those with cancer or heart disease.

The average cost during the last five years of life for someone with dementia is $278,000. Compare that to $173,400 for cancer and $175,000 for heart disease.

These expenses obviously must be factored into retirement and estate planning. Some of these costs can be covered by insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, but a significant amount must be paid out of pocket. In many instances, the full cost of hired caregivers is not included in estimates, and it’s difficult to put a price on the additional cost of time and effort of family members.

Alzheimer’s and Estate Planning

Financial planning often gets cast aside due to the fear and stress this topic induces. There are plenty of ways to simplify preparation and avoid future complications.

Determine family members who should be included in financial plans, and establish which can assist in completing routine financial responsibilities. In any estate planning process, it is crucial to pinpoint projected costs associated with the care of Alzheimer’s and dementia due to their substantial nature.

Review government benefits that may be available, including veterans’ benefits and Medicare. Also, review insurance benefits such as long-term-care policies. Establish all potential resources to pay for care, including assets, investments, savings, and retirement funds.

Reducing the Risk

One research report from the American Medical Association lists exercising the body and mind as methods that help fend off the onset of dementia in older adults. Those who delay retirement are also less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia than those who end careers before age 60. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, any activity that promotes mental stimulation, like reading regularly or taking a class, will help make a difference.

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