MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Alzheimer’s has become one of the most expensive diseases for families to deal with. More Minnesotans are having to face this reality. Within the next four years, the Alzheimer’s Association expects 120,000 Minnesotans will live with this disease.
Wally Chapman and his family are already well into their journey. Chapman’s father is a retired orthodontist in Edina.
"He was diagnosed with Lew body dementia about three years ago," said Chapman. "It’s been a tough journey, but we’re doing it together."
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that robs a person of their memory and often affects their personality. And many families are unprepared for the financial costs of the care that comes with the disease.
"I mean, this is so expensive. And that’s why it’s important to consider these things early," said Jenna Fink with the Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Chapman brings two perspectives to the costs of care. As a son, he sees and knows the care his father is receiving and the costs of that care. But as a wealth manager with RBC, he knows that this is also something families need to plan for.
"You really have to act fast," said Chapman.
He recommends that immediately after a diagnosis, families need to touch base with their financial advisor and accountant. He also recommends checking their healthcare coverage. The Alzheimer’s Association advises that families learn the differences between Medicare and Medicaid and what both plans will pay for and what they will not.
"It certainly helps for those financial advisors, the accountants, those trusted advisers, those team members to know exactly what’s going on so that you’ve got another line of defense that a mistake is not made by somebody that might not have the cognitive ability anymore to be making big financial decisions," said Chapman.
And just as important, Jenna Fink says let your loved one be part of the decision-making process. Often times she says they will say, "Hey, I found this home health agency that I would want to work with, or this is the care facility that I would want to go into again. Involving the person with dementia as much as you can," said Fink.
And the Alzheimer’s Association is an important resource, too. They have an online training session to learn about the legal and financial planning for Alzheimer’s disease.
"They were my first call for help on what do we do?" recalled Chapman. "We needed a wheelchair. We needed a hospital bed. At one point, we needed a walker. You know, they’re helping us out with all this stuff, and it’s just a fantastic organization.