Alzheimer’s and Dementia can be some of the hardest health challenges for families to cope with. They are also the hardest to accept and recognize as the child of a parent who is starting to become forgetful, or seems to misplace things more frequently. They can also be incredibly expensive conditions to manage because of the 24-hour care that is needed in the later stages of the condition.
Some families will try to manage by taking turns caring after loved ones that suffer from early stage dementia or Alzheimer’s. When it gets too challenging, they will often seek out agency help for a few hours of respite care when needed. As the conditions progresses though, it can become very hard on family to maintain the needed level of care, no matter how much they want to.
When my grandfather developed Alzheimer’s, we found out what a lack of planning costs. We were fortunate enough that he had built up some assets over his life, and when we sold the family home, there was enough money to pay off the $347,311.27 bill over the last four years of his life. I remember writing that final check and asking the finance person what happens to people who cannot afford it.
I was told that most of them end up in Medicaid homes having to rely on the State for help in receiving care. They do not get a lot of choice, and in many cases, the homes are only staffed at the minimum requirements because their simply is not enough money for all the extras that make the kind of care you would hope to receive possible.
With medical advances, there are now early detection tests to help people find and fight certain types of cancers, genetic conditions, and other diseases. The problem is, if you have not planned your insurance prior to screening, you could be denied coverage, and worse, face the financial ruin that can occur when the medical bills come due. IT is not uncommon on insurance applications to see the question typically worded… have you in the last six months been advised of, sought treatment for, and been told you have any of the following conditions (two pages later).
Recently NPR hosted a program on Alzheimer’s research. No cures are on the immediate horizon but they have found a genetic screen for Alzheimer’s and some techniques to slow the progress of the disease. Human trials have just begun on a drug that showed promise during animal trials. This has happened before so the head of the research team cautioned listeners to not get overly optimistic.
He strongly encouraged people with a family history of Alzheimer’s to be screened. However, he advised that they should first purchase Long Term Care insurance. Once the genetic test results are in the insurance companies may not be willing to offer them insurance policies. The results become part of your medical records and could adversely affect eligibility. His message of preparing for a long term care need before the test is good advice.
There is no better time to plan for and buy certain types of insurances then when you don’t need them. It sounds counter-intuitive we know, but that is why most insurance companies have waiting/elimination periods; they know most people don’t buy something until they plan to use it. So if you have a family history of any condition, including Alzheimer’s, get in touch with one of our specialists today to learn all the facts about coverage options so you can plan your next step before getting screened. You might be surprised at how affordable coverage can be for the people that don’t need it yet.
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