Long-term care—the future housing and nursing care arrangement for an Alzheimer’s patient—is expensive. It's important to prepare early, taking into consideration the needs and preferences of the person with Alzheimer’s and his or her caregiver, and the anticipated current and future levels of care.
Options for Insurance and Long-Term Care
Facilities for senior adults can cost thousands of dollars a month. Families may have a difficult time predicting future costs, in part because they do not know how long the person with Alzheimer’s will live. (People with Alzheimer’s may live from two to 20 years longer, but the average survival span, post-diagnosis, is seven years in the United States.)
Be aware of the following limitations on long-term care:
- Medicare does not cover long-term care.
- Usually long-term care must be financed through private funds and insurance plans.
- Once these funds are depleted, Medicaid may be used to pay for continued care.
- Private, long-term care insurance plans are an option, but only if they are already in place at the time of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Types of Housing
Housing options for seniors, from communities for generally healthy residents to hospice care, include:
Independent Living or Retirement Communities
These communities are for seniors who are generally in good health and able to care for themselves, so they are not usually a long-term solution for those with Alzheimer’s.
Assisted Living Facilities
These facilities provide private apartments with in-house care and activities for older people. Many have special sections for those with Alzheimer’s, generally in the early to mid-stages of the disease.
Life Care or Continuing Care Retirement Communities
This type of community requires a lifetime commitment, starting with independent living then progressing to continued care as residents age.
Nursing Homes or Skilled Nursing Facilities
These facilities offer long-term, 24-hour care for people with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. They may have special sections for those with the disease.
Hospice care is available in the home or a facility for those with terminal illnesses and six months or less to live. Medicare covers the costs of hospice care for a person with Alzheimer’s. Often, the service is underused because it can be difficult to determine how long the person will live.
Resources to Use
Be sure to consult Helpful Organizations for detailed resources and advice on home health care, long-term care, living options, caregiver supports, and more.