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Alzheimer's Care: What are the Costs?

Having an elderly parent or relative diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is worrying and stressful. You feel as though you are losing the person you love a little piece at a time as their memory and cognitive processes begin to fail. Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition, which means it gets steadily worse over time and at present there is no cure, although drugs are available to slow the progress of the disease.

One of the biggest problems facing families where a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is the question of finances. Because all sufferers need increasing amounts of dementia care as the condition progresses, costs can escalate fast. That’s why it’s important to establish a plan of action as quickly as possible following diagnosis.

Arrange Financial Affairs

The first step is to gather family members together to arrange a plan of action. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to being scammed, so taking control of your loved one’s finances is an important step in protecting his or her assets. Consult a solicitor and arrange for a trusted family member to be given Power of Attorney, which will allow them to make financial decisions on your loved one’s behalf.

Make a note of all the assets your relative owns. Trace all bank and savings accounts, and ascertain if there are any bonds, insurance policies or other investments that could be put towards care funding. Discuss with family members how much financial or practical assistance each person can offer. Depending on your circumstances, you may find you can cope with caring for your loved one between yourselves, at least in the early stages of the disease.

Consider Likely Expenditure

A person with Alzheimer’s will require prescription drugs to deal with symptoms and be required to attend regular medical checks. You will need to factor in the cost of travel to and from appointments, and include any medical expenses for other conditions unrelated to Alzheimer’s.

It is likely that you will need to spend money on making the home safe, so consider expenses such as a stair lift, safety modifications to the home and other equipment to make life easier for your loved one. You will also need to factor in money for personal care products and these costs will increase over time as the condition progresses.

Eventually, your loved one may need specialist residential care, but until then, if you plan to be the carer yourself, you need to consider periods of respite care to give yourself a break from time to time. Caring for someone with dementia conditions can be tiring and demanding, so be sure to build in downtime for yourself and other family members. Dementia care specialists can be employed for long or short periods to provide in-home care for your loved one, allowing you to go on holiday, for example.

Mikis’ care story

In this short video, Nick and Maro explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care.

They discuss how live-in care has allowed Nick’s father Mikis to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.

Seek Local Authority Help

Your local authority will provide a free assessment of your loved one’s needs on request and will draw up a care plan for you. This will determine how much help might be available from state funding. If your loved one receives financial assistance, you do not have to spend this sum on local authority services and are free to arrange private care if you prefer.

The NHS has a Continuing Healthcare scheme, which can provide financial assistance for your loved one, but it is a complex system to navigate and you have to be prepared to fight your case. It is worth persevering, though, as the financial assistance can be helpful for families who are struggling with the cost of elderly care.

Live-in Care at Home

Even if your loved one can manage at home with just a little help from family members at first, eventually they will need more extensive assistance. Care homes have been receiving a lot of bad press recently, leading more and more families to look for alternatives, and there are now dedicated private care companies which can provide your loved one with a live-in carer.

Because the caregiver is carefully matched to your loved one, they become a friend and companion as well as providing much-needed assistance throughout the day and night. Family members find it reassuring to know that their loved one is receiving 24/7 care, which allows a degree of independent living while ensuring complete safety at all times.

Many of those with Alzheimer’s find it reassuring to remain in familiar surroundings but left to their own devices they can forget to eat and bathe themselves. They can be prone to wandering off, and then forget how to find their way home again. Having someone on hand to help with personal care, cook nutritious meals and take them on social outings is a wonderful way of ensuring that your loved one remains safe and happy in their own home.

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"I love knowing someone is going to bed happy at night because they have a great carer."

Bridget, Care Professional at Elder

Bridget Elder Carer

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