On Labor Day 2015 the Idaho Statesman ran an article by Stacy St. Amand. In the article, Stacy tells how she and her siblings have been dealing with their mother's dementia. While every family's story is different there are many similarities that anyone who has dealt with this awful disease will recognize. The article is well worth your time especially if your family is dealing with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
Stacy describes situations all too familiar with us here at Idaho Estate Planning as we have helped many families deal with the difficult process of caring for someone with dementia. She writes, "Mom kept insisting that she was going to live alone when her husband died. Despite her declining condition, she longed for independence and solitude. But even with help in the house, we all caught her taking double doses of her meds on some days and none on others, leaving a dish towel on a hot stove, stashing cash in kitchen cabinets, losing her hearing aids every day, and storing her shoes under her pillow."
Stacy also talks about the progression of the disease in her mother. "My stepdad’s health was failing, and shortly after Mom’s diagnosis they got in-home care. We thought it was a perfect interim solution. But that too proved to be problematic. We learned that major stressors or any major event in the life of someone with dementia can, and almost always does, cause a decline in cognitive ability. My stepdad’s illness began taking a toll. While having 24/7 in-home care helped us logistically, having strangers in her home caused the cognitive decline we feared. We all thought that when her husband passed and the caregivers moved out, some of Mom’s stress would be alleviated and she would rebound. We were wrong. We learned that dementia victims never rebound. Every decline is permanent."
According to the Alzheimer's Association in their downloadable "2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures" an ... "estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2015. This number includes an estimated 5.1 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. About one-third of people age 85 and older (32 percent) have Alzheimer’s disease. Eighty-one percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease are age 75 or older."
According to the same document approximately 23,000 Idahoans suffer from Alzheimer's right now with the number expected to balloon by 43% to a whopping 33,000 in the next 10 years. The cost of caring for someone with dementia can be devastating to a family. In the graph below from the 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures we wee the costs can range from twice as expensive to 5 times more costly than the care for those unaffected by the disease.
Fundamentally, it's important to understand that Alzheimer's is not the same as other diseases. Dealing with dementia requires a lot of attention from all involved. Through it all, competent counsel will be necessary to properly assess the needs and possibilities, as well as to ensure that everything is in place when needed most. At Idaho Estate Planning we have the experience and expertise to help you maintain your options and protect yourself as well as your loved ones now and into the future. We have a network of resources throughout the Treasure Valley ready to help us meet your needs. Remember, good planning is no accident!