Financial focus: What should Alzheimer’s caregivers know?
Posted at 2:26 PM Tuesday October 4, 2022
If you have a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, or are starting to show symptoms, you will face some real challenges. Navigating the Alzheimer’s disease experience involves a long journey, and there is no easy answer to how to deal with your feelings. But you can at least address some of the related financial issues to help give yourself a greater sense of control.
Here are some movements to consider:
Planning care costs and determining insurance coverage. The list of medical expenses related to Alzheimer’s disease is long and includes ongoing medical treatment, medical equipment, home safety modifications, prescription medications, and personal care supplies. As a caregiver, you will want to know the extent of health insurance for your loved ones: Medicare, supplement policies, veterans benefits if any, etc. One important question is how much coverage they might have for adult daycare services, home care services, full-time residential care services, and other long-term care options. Long-term care is one of the biggest health care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover, so you’ll want to determine if your loved one has a long-term care policy or other insurance policy with a long-term care rider.
Determine assets and debts. You will need to know the financial situation of your family members, both what they own – bank accounts, investments, property, etc. – and what they owe, such as credit card debt, mortgage, lines of credit, etc. This knowledge will be necessary if you obtain a power of attorney to take over the finances of your loved ones.
Look for tax credits available for caregivers. If you are a caregiver, you may have to pay some of the costs of care out of pocket. Thus, you can get some tax breaks and deductions. These benefits vary by state, so you will need to consult with your tax advisor to determine your eligibility.
Make sure you have the necessary legal documents. As a caregiver, you may need to make sure you have certain legal documents in place, such as a permanent financial power of attorney, which allows you to make financial decisions for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, and a health care permanent power of attorney, which allows you to make health and medical care decisions on their behalf. It is important that these and other necessary documents are prepared before someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or when they are just starting to show early signs of the disease, so they can understand which documents they are signing. If you wait until they no longer have that cognitive ability, things will get even more difficult. You can apply to become a custodian, which gives you decision-making capabilities similar to a power of attorney, but the filing process takes time and may involve court proceedings. To avoid this potential difficulty, work with your tax and legal professionals to ensure that all relevant legal documents are valid and up-to-date.
Finally, you don’t have to do this alone. To help deal with the emotional challenges of caregiving, you can find local Alzheimer’s support groups that can offer practical suggestions for coping. For financial matters, consider working with a financial professional who can look at your family’s overall situation and recommend appropriate actions.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease will change the lives of everyone in your family. But as a caregiver, you can help ease the burden.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Edward Jones’ local financial advisor. Edward Jones, SIPC . Member