Alzheimer’s is one of the most feared diseases in America. Caused by plaque build up in the brain, it robs you of your memory and other functions. While none of us want to believe we will get Alzheimer’s, the reality is that roughly one in nine* of us will, and that number is only expected to rise. Then how do we prepare for something like that?
Cost of Alzheimer’s
Costs of Alzheimer’s are three fold. There is a physical, emotional, and financial toll taken on by the patient and their families.
Physically, the brain suffers a buildup of plaques, which interferes with memory. Not only does it affect daily tasks, like forgetting your keys, but can erase memories of your own past experiences or your loved ones.
It is emotionally draining. Loved ones caring for those with the disease are under constant stress, feeling the pain of seeing the deterioration while also dealing with the financial pressures of Alzheimer’s.
Each year, Alzheimer’s costs the nation an estimated $236 billion. That makes it one of the most expensive diseases. Towards the end of a life, families can expect to pay up to $278,000 throughout the last five years for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
While you may not be able to emotionally prepare yourself for dealing with Alzheimer’s, you can take physical steps to reduce your risk, as well as financial steps to be ready for the cost of medical care.
Research shows that those who stay physically and mentally active have lesser risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Other research suggest those who delay retirement show reduced rates of Alzheimer’s, though many believe this is due to keeping mentally active while working, and not necessarily to working later into life itself.
Second most important, is to be financially prepared. When you fail to plan, it leaves the financial pressure on loved ones, who often end up being your children who face the challenge of caring for you and their own kids.
You need an estate plan. Find a power of attorney and a medical proxy who can make decisions for you in case of your own impairment. Have a will. Don’t leave your assets in the hands of probate court.
Next, make sure your assets are positioned to generate income for you. You need streams of income to help support the cost of all medical care. At this point in life, you cannot afford to have assets in risky investment strategies, for if anything were to happen to your nest egg, the cost of dementias and other diseases will fall onto those you care about. This is a stress you do not want to perpetuate.
So be prepared. Plan. Know your finances and how you will receive income at different stages of your life. Take care of your body. Take care of your mind. Be prepared so you can enjoy your retirement.
*Approximately one in nine people over age 65 have Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.