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How to Ease the Financial Burden of Alzheimer’s Care

how to pay for alzheimer's care

Do you have a parent with Alzheimer’s? Are you worried that caring for their Alzheimer’s is going to completely cripple the family budget? 

If you don’t think you have the money to pay for your parent’s care, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Many people don’t realize how costly it is to care for aging parents until it’s too late. In fact, did you know that families spend more money caring for their parents than they do raising their children? 

If you’re worried about coming up with the money to care for your aging parent with Alzheimer’s, don’t panic. 

The truth is, there are a lot of financial resources out there that many people don’t know about. 

Read on to learn how to pay for Alzheimer’s care. 

Medicaid 

If your parent is below or close to the federal poverty level, Medicaid may be their best option. Medicaid is a federally funded program that covers things like home health care, long-term care, hospital visits and transportation to medical appointments. 

Of course, each state has different laws in terms of who is eligible, what services are covered, and how much money you get reimbursed. Therefore, it’s very important to look into your own state’s laws before making any decisions. 

It’s also important to note that the income eligibility for Medicaid is extremely strict. Oftentimes, it will involve a three-year process. In other words, your parent will need to prove that their income was at or below the poverty level for the past 3 years. 

Medicaid will also look into whether your parents transferred or sold any assets to family members in order to qualify.  

Medicare 

Not to be confused with Medicaid, Medicare is health care coverage that’s provided by the government to seniors age 65 or older. 

If your parent has been receiving Social Security disability income (more on that later) for 24 months straight, they can also qualify for Medicare, even if they are under 65.

There are also a few other special circumstances (such as late-stage kidney failure) that may allow your loved one to qualify before the age of 65. If you have any questions about qualification, you can call the Medicare office at (800) MEDICARE. 

Typically, Medicare covers 80 percent of costs that don’t require hospitalization and 100 percent of costs that do, with a small deductible paid. However, it is important to note that Medicare does not cover long-term personal care at home.

Medicare coverage is divided into 3 parts: Medicare A, Medicare B, and Medicare D. 

Medicare A covers short stays in nursing homes (depending on the illness), hospice care for the last 6 months of life, and hospital costs after you pay a deductible. Medicare B covers outpatient care, part of the cost of visiting the doctor, and certain preventative services (like flu shots). 

Lastly, Medicare D covers the cost of some medications. 

Custodial Care 

It’s also important to note that Medicare will cover stays in an inpatient skilled nursing facility for up to 100 days, but only after a hospital stay. 

This is where things sometimes get a little bit confusing for Alzheimer’s patients, as Alzheimer’s patients require something that is called custodial care. This includes help with things like bathing, dressing, cleaning, preparing meals, and eating. 

Medicare sees these things as “non-medical”, and they, therefore, do not cover them. 

However, if your parent becomes medically ill for another reason (such as a broken hip or pneumonia) and they need to go to the hospital, they will still qualify for the 100-day stay in a skilled care facility. 

Social Security Disability Income

If your parent is disabled and can no longer work, then they also qualify for social security disability income (if they’re below retirement age). 

If your parent is under the age of 65 and suffers from Alzheimer’s, their social security income can be used to help pay for their care expenses.

The exact amount your parent will receive will depend on a number of factors. And, disability incomes vary greatly, so don’t waste your time searching for a “standard” level.

Employee Benefits

If your parent continues to work during the early stages of their Alzheimer’s, then they may be able to use their employee benefits to cover some of the costs of their care. 

Some benefits they may be able to take advantage of include short-term disability, paid sick leave, and a flexible spending account. 

Be sure to check out parent’s employee handbook to see what benefit options are available. And, have them speak with their HR representative before moving forward. 

Retirement Benefits

For many, retirement benefits are a saving grace when it comes to paying for Alzheimer’s care

Retirement plans include both annuities and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). 

Typically, you need to wait until you are 65 to withdraw from these plans without receiving a penalty. However, if your parent was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at 59 and half years old or younger, they may be able to withdraw early without receiving a penalty. 

In this case, they will also likely qualify for social security benefits. Therefore, they will be able to take advantage of both retirement benefits of social security disability income. 

Armed Forces/VA Benefits

Was your parent a member of the armed forces? If so, they may qualify for particular benefits that help them pay for their Alzheimer’s care.  

The first option is the Federal Long Term Insurance Program (FLTCIP). If your parent was a member of the selected service, is a retired uniformed service member, or was called to active duty for more than 30 days in a row, then they may qualify for this program. 

However, the eligibility requirements for this are very complex, so be sure to check out the FLTCIP website for complete details and contact information.  

Your parent may also want to take advantage of VA benefits if they’re a veteran. Benefits for veterans with dementia include coverage for things like in-home care, long-term care services, and community-based care. 

Personal Savings/Investments 

Lastly, you may want to look into tapping into personal assets (either yours or your parent’s) in order to pay for Alzheimer’s care. 

These include things like real estate, savings accounts, stocks, bonds, personal property, jewelry, and artwork. 

Through a process called a reverse mortgage, your parent may also be able to convert the equity from their home into income. 

How to Pay for Alzheimer’s Care: Wrapping It All Up 

As you can see, there are many different ways that you can cut down the cost of your parent’s Alzheimer’s care without going broke. 

Just be sure to do thorough research on each method to make sure you meet the qualification criteria. 

If you have questions about how to pay for Alzheimer’s care, please be sure to drop us a comment below.