Why It Matters:
- Between 2000 and 2017, deaths from heart disease have decreased 9% while deaths from Alzheimer's have increased 145%.1
- More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.1
- We all hope dementia never affects someone we know. But the fact is, every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors are affected by it or another dementia.1
Clients who take on the role of caregiver will likely be affected financially, emotionally, and professionally.
There’s a strong likelihood that dementia could touch the life of a client — either as patient or caregiver — and you’ll need insight and tools at the ready to help them prepare for, or manage, the financial aspects of their journey.
Understanding Alzheimer’s and dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms.2
Alzheimer’s affects memory, thinking, and behavior.2 While everyone experiences the disease somewhat differently, there are three general stages: early, middle, and late.
Knowing the risk factors
After 65, the risk for getting Alzheimer’s doubles every five years, and nearly 1/3 of people over 85 are living with the disease.3 Other factors that can increase an individual’s risk include family history and gender, with women accounting for 2/3 of Americans with Alzheimer’s. 4
The good news is that researchers have gained insight into reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s through adequate exercise, proper nutrition, and positive social interaction.
Identifying the signs
While it’s not unusual for someone to experience mild memory issues as they age, there are certain symptoms that should be discussed with a doctor. As research reveals more information on the treatment of symptoms, early diagnosis will become increasingly important. While it can be difficult for an individual to identify these changes in themselves: family, friends — even a financial professional — may be the first to notice.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s:5
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and depth perception
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Helping clients prepare for the possibility
In addition to increasing your awareness of the facts, there are other, more tangible ways you can help your clients prepare.
The AgingWell Hub — a research collaborative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business — has created an interactive Cost of Caregiving Calculator designed to help families better understand the out-of-pocket costs associated with providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The tool will walk you and your clients through each stage of the disease, show the care needed in each of them, and the associated financial implications. Learn more about the calculator and how to best use it with clients.
Work with clients who are caregivers to determine what stage their loved may be in, and any steps they should be taking now to help prepare for the future.
Offering clients hope and help
In the past few decades, progress has been made in understanding the disease. Earlier intervention is now possible, and there are FDA-approved treatments available that can help manage the symptoms.
If your client, or someone they care for, is facing the challenge of Alzheimer’s, they don’t have to go at it alone. Many resources exist for obtaining information and support. The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900) as well as an online Community Resource Finder.
Things to Consider:
- One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia,1 making it likely you’ll need to help some of your clients navigate the financial impact of the disease, either as a patient or caregiver.
- It’s important for your clients to be aware of the associated costs of care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
- Helping to connect clients with the resources available to them can help you feel empowered vs. overwhelmed.
1 “Facts and Figures: Quick Facts,” Alzheimer’s Association, accessed September 2019
2 “Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” Alzheimer’s Association, accessed September 2019
3 “Causes and Risk Factors,” Alzheimer’s Association, accessed September 2019
4 “Women and Alzheimer’s: Quick Facts,” Alzheimer’s Association, accessed September 2019
5 “10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s,” Alzheimer’s Association, accessed September 2019
Originally Posted Nov. 08, 2019 on Transamerica's New Age of Advice