The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease has been increasing sharply over the past several years, and will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal stated that the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease grew 10% globally between 2005 and 2009 to 35 million… [and] this number is expected to continue climbing to 115.4 million in 2050 (Alzheimer’s Cases to Climb Sharply, by Shirley S. Wang, 9/21/09).
In certain countries, such as the United Kingdom, a national Alzheimer’s plan has been put in place to deal with the inevitable financial and social implications of this sharply increasing population. However, no such national plan exists in the United States. Also, as the article states, federal spending on Alzheimer’s research is far lower than diseases like cancer and AIDS.
Without a governmental program in place to manage the rapid increase of Alzheimer’s patients and their specialized needs, the responsibility ends up falling on individuals who are ill-equipped to take care for someone with Alzheimer’s. Family and friends are left to assist in coordinating and funding the long-term care of their loved ones, but are given little guidance on how to do so. Medicare, our national health insurance program that is available to individuals 65 and older, does not pay for long-term custodial care, which is typically the kind of care individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease need. The family is often left overwhelmed and financially devastated by the cost of such care.
Paying out of pocket for long-term care is extremely expensive. This is why it is so important to see an Elder Law attorney when family members begin showing signs of dementia.
An Elder Law Attorney can make sure that an individual with Alzheimer’s receives the care he needs, and does not end up penniless in the process.