Caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia can be very expensive. Fortunately, there are many programs that offer financial assistance and nearly all states provide some level of help. Additionally, there are programs for veterans, non-profit assistance and even loans intended to help families afford the cost of care. The challenge lies in locating these programs and determining one’s eligibility. The American Elder Care Research Organization has created a free Search Tool that assists families in finding the programs relevant to them.
The organization has also written an in-depth article about paying for Alzheimer’s / dementia care as well as paying for dementia care resulting from Parkinson’s disease.
Did You Know? There are programs that offer to pay family members to provide care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Learn more.
Unfortunately, Medicare provides limited assistance for the costs incurred by families for Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Medicare’s benefits are strictly for medical needs and so much of caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia is non-medical in nature. Supervision, assistance with dressing, bathing or eating, transportation are all time-consuming activities but are non-medical in nature and therefore Medicare does not provide coverage or financial benefits. This include care such as home care and assisted living.
Having said that, Medicare does provide some assistance and the level of assistance tends to increase as the condition progresses and needs become more severe. Read a complete analysis of Medicare’s dementia benefits.
Medicaid is a state-specific program for persons with limited income as well as limited financial resources or “assets”. Having a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia does not automatically make an individual eligible for Medicaid assistance. However, given that most individuals with Alzheimer’s / dementia have limited if no ability to work and therefore have limited income, many will qualify for benefits. Furthermore, certain Medicaid programs allow candidates to deduct their care expenses from their income when calculating income for eligibility purposes. Assets, such as one’s home can also be deducted.
Medicaid’s benefits, unlike Medicare’s benefits, are significantly broader for persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia. For example, while Medicare flat out will not be for assisted living, Medicaid (in most states) does offer some level of assisted living benefit. Another example, Medicare will pay for nursing home care, but only for 80-100 days, while Medicaid will pay for nursing home care on an ongoing basis. Read about Medicaid eligibility and benefits.
Financial planners that specialize in Alzheimer’s care exist. These individuals and organization can often help families qualify for financial assistance programs they otherwise would not be eligible through their creative planning processes. Learn more.
The VA has multiple programs that provide financial assistance for persons will Alzheimer’s or other dementia. The further good news is that the disease does not need to be related to their military service. Therefore, veterans and their spouses who develop Alzheimer’s or dementia for any reason will very likely find some type of financial assistance for their care from the Veteran’s administration. That said, one should not expect the VA to cover the complete cost of caring for a loved one. Read about VA assistance for Alzheimer’s care and eligibility criteria.
Many states offer financial assistance for persons with Alzheimer’s / dementia paid for by the state’s “general fund”. Some of these programs are specifically for dementia (require a diagnosis) and others are simply for individual with age-related care requirements. Further complicating the eligibility picture is that these programs are typically not entitlement programs. Rather they receive a limited amount of funding and are only able to help a limited number of persons. Waiting lists are common. Each state is different, some prioritize their waiting lists by severity of need and others simply based on one’s position in the wait list.
Finding these programs can be a challenge as well. It is recommended that one begin by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Typically AAAs are county-specific. One can locate their AAA here.
Local non-profits organization and national foundations are another potential source of financial assistance. These organizations tend to provide services in lieu of cash assistance. Commonly, an organization will provide respite care free of charge or for highly reduced rates (when compared to hourly home care costs).