There comes a time when a parent with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can no longer live independently. When that day comes, do you know where your loved one will go?
Aging in place with dementia
Aging in place is familiar, but is it safe? Living in their own home is an option for adults with early to mid-stage dementia with the assistance of home care aides and/or family caregivers. However, home modifications are usually necessary to mitigate the hazards of living with dementia. These include home modifications to make a home age-friendly, such as accessible bathrooms and slip-resistant flooring, along with safety features to prevent wandering, confusion, and other dementia-related safety concerns.
These renovations can be costly. Just installing a walk-in tub or shower averages $5,000. Depending on the home’s age and layout, retrofitting for accessibility could cost well into five digits.
Home equity is the most practical way to pay for such extensive renovations. With today’s low rates, more homeowners are using refinancing to lower their monthly payments while taking out cash for repairs and improvements. While refinancing does require closing costs, certain borrowers including military veterans can use special loan programs like the VA IRRRL and Cash-Out programs to refinance a home with low-to-no out-of-pocket costs.
Moving a parent with dementia into your home
If a parent requires 24/7 supervision or aging-in-place remodeling proves impractical, your own home may be a better solution. Moving in with children and grandchildren is best done during the early stages of dementia when a parent has time to adapt to their new surroundings. However, it’s important to be realistic about a parent’s needs and how they’ll change over time. Family caregiving may be practical in the beginning but grow unmanageable as the disease progresses and care needs increase.
This solution requires the entire family to be on board. Becoming a family caregiver requires sacrifices from primary caregivers as well as spouses and children. This includes cutting back on leisure time, pitching in on caregiving duties, and losing privacy and personal space.
Consider ways to lighten the burden. For many families, this means hiring in-home help and taking advantage of adult daycare and respite care for adults with dementia. Families may pay out-of-pocket using investments, annuities, or life insurance policies. Older adults in some states may qualify for Medicaid programs that pay for home- and community-based services including in-home care.
Memory care and assisted living
Memory care is a subset of assisted living that caters to the needs of adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Like other assisted living communities, memory care provides housing and helps residents with daily tasks like meal preparation, housekeeping, and personal care. Memory care facilities also include a higher staff-to-resident ratio and safety and security features designed with dementia patients in mind. Along with these enhanced amenities come higher costs with memory care pricing ranging from $3,800-$7,395 a month.
The price tag is the biggest barrier to memory care for most families. Unfortunately, Medicare only covers medical services, not the custodial care provided at assisted living communities.
Families in need of financial assistance should research Medicaid coverage for assisted living and veteran’s benefits including Aid & Attendance, Veteran Directed Care, and state veterans homes. Other means of paying for long-term care include accelerated life insurance benefits, reverse mortgages, and selling a home.
How to care for a parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a daunting decision. Every answer has its own benefits and challenges and there’s no one solution that’s right for everyone. Give yourself time to research the options, assess your financial resources, and decide how you can best provide for your loved one.
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