Sixty-one percent of family caregivers for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease say their loved one did not make any financial plans for their future care before their diagnosis, according to a new AgingCare.com survey. But those who do make financial plans for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia care are more likely to use elder care services, such as nursing homes.
More than a quarter of Alzheimer’s caregivers spend over $4,000 each month on their loved ones’ care, according to the study that polled more than 1,600 people taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. And those who report spending $4,000 or more each month on their loved one’s care were more likely to make use of nursing homes and other senior housing options.
In fact, these caregivers about twice as likely to have a loved one residing in a care facility — 28% in assisted living versus 13% overall and 31% in a nursing home versus 16% overall.
“Alzheimer’s costs a lot—whether in the form of money or time—and it’s vital that families recognize this and seek help,” Anne-Marie Botek, editor-in-chief of AgingCare.com tells SHN. “For instance, families who spent the most money — those in the $4,000 a month and above range — were more likely to have made financial plans in advance and devote fewer hours each week to providing direct care for their loved ones. On the other hand, families who spent less than $4,000 a month were less likely to have planned ahead and devote more hours to hands-on care for their loved ones.”
Thirty-eight percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers provide more than 30 hours a week of unpaid care for a loved one, data show.
The majority of caregivers are caring for a parent or spouse. Patients between the ages of 60-69 years old are three times more likely to be cared for by their spouse, while patients over 80 years old are far more likely to be cared for by an adult child, the survey finds.
Respondents were also asked to share advice for other caregivers, and paying for additional help if needed ranked among the top responses.
“Don’t let your loved one’s care financially, physically, and emotionally ruin you,” caregivers advise. “Use their funds as long as they last and don’t worry about ‘saving’ their money for later down the road. You have to take care of yourself now, and if that means paying for care for your loved one now, then do it.”
Today there are more than 15 million Americans taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s.
“Each family’s situation will be different, so their plans for the future will be different, too,” Botek says. “One of the best ways for caregivers to learn more about their financial options, as well as what works and what doesn’t, is by collaborating with other people who’ve been in similar situations.”
View the study’s findings here.
Written by Cassandra Dowell