For Jim to qualify, she would then need to become an “impoverished spouse.” Among other things, this meant that Linda could keep their home, but a lien would be placed against it so that after the house was sold Medicaid could recover whatever money they had paid out for her husband, assuming the house was worth that much. Linda had little choice, so she did what she had to do. She placed Jim in the nursing home, visited as much as she could, and lived on what Medicaid allowed her to keep.
I use this couple as an example because they were solidly middle class people who had planned well for their retirement. They had expected that, between their Social Security and their savings and investments, they’d be financially secure enough to continue with their relatively modest middle class lifestyle until they died. Alzheimer’s disease destroyed that hope for this couple as it has for millions of others.
Long-term care insurance has helped some people survive financially
Another example, although somewhat different in their ability to pay, is a couple who had wisely purchased long-term care insurance years before the woman developed Alzheimer’s disease. The long-term care policy now helps pay for in-home care, adult day care or other care needs, as well as nursing home care. This couple still feels the pinch of Alzheimer’s costs, but they should survive with less financial damage.
Any incapacitating illness that lasts for years is expensive. A person who develops Alzheimer’s will have initial costs that mirror other illnesses. However, for some people the need for constant supervision can start early and last for a decade or more. The cost of such care can devastate families financially.
Aside from the pressing need to discover a cure for Alzheimer’s because of the human destruction caused by this cognitive killer, we need to find a cure for this disease because of the financial consequences for families and our country as a whole. When people can no longer pay for the care their loved one needs, then the tax payers get billed. For humane and well as financial reasons, we need to fund research to end this disease. Often these concerns overlap.