After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, financial planning often gets pushed aside because of the stress and fear this topic evokes. However, you can reduce stress by planning ahead.
Where to begin
To begin financial planning, start with these priority steps:
- Use the Financial and Legal Document Worksheet (PDF). This will assist you in organizing needed documents and taking an inventory of all assets and debts you and your partner are responsible for.
- Identify family members that should be included in your financial plans. For example, those with knowledge of your situation and those who may be able to provide support.
- Identify the costs of care. Consider the costs you may incur now and in the future.
- Review government benefits. You may be eligible for benefits that provide assistance with prescription costs, transportation and meals.
- Review any long-term care insurance policies. If a policy is in place, check whether it may help cover future care costs.
- Check Veterans benefits. If you have served in the armed forces, regardless of the branch or length of service, there are veterans benefits that may help with expenses.
- Decide who can help you complete routine financial responsibilities. This may include paying bills, arranging for benefit claims, making investment decisions, managing bank accounts and preparing tax returns. The following resources from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may be helpful as you discuss financial responsibilities with those whom you wish to act on your behalf when you are no longer able.
To plan for your financial needs during the course of Alzheimer's disease, you'll need to consider all the costs you might face now and in the future. Since Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, the type and level of care needed will intensify over time. Care costs will vary depending upon where you live. Have a family meeting to discuss how much future care might cost and to make financial plans.
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Common care costs include:
- Ongoing medical treatment for Alzheimer's symptoms, diagnosis and follow-up visits
- Treatment or medical equipment for other medical conditions
- Safety-related expenses, such as home safety modifications or safety services
- Prescription drugs
- Personal care supplies
- Adult day services
- In-home care services
- Full-time residential care services
Resources to pay for care
A number of financial resources may be available to help cover care costs. Some may apply now and others in the future.
Financial resources include:
About reverse mortgages
This is a type of home equity loan that allows a person age 62 or older to convert some of the equity in his or her home into cash while remaining the homeowner. Reverse mortgages do not have an impact on Social Security or Medicare benefits, but they may affect qualifying for other government programs. There are risks and benefits to reverse mortgages. Some risks may jeopardize your ability to continue to live in your home. To find out how a reverse mortgage might affect you, your beneficiaries and your estate, speak with your attorney or financial advisor.
If you have a complex financial situation or not comfortable doing financial planning on your own, you can get help from a financial advisor, such as a financial planner and or an estate planning attorney. They can help you identify potential financial resources and outline a plan to make your financial resources last. Make sure to ask the financial advisor if he or she is familiar with elder care or long-term care planning.
When selecting a financial advisor, check qualifications such as:
- Professional credentials
- Work experience
- Educational background
- Membership in professional associations
- Areas of specialty
If you need help locating a financial advisor, start with these resources:
Next: Building a Care Team