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The Politics of Health Care

The Alzheimer's Crisis

Published February 19, 2013 7:40 AM by Michael LaMagna
As many of you already know, caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease is both emotionally and financially draining. Alzheimer's is an incurable disease, which in many cases erodes a person's memory and makes the most basic daily care tasks that we take for granted, such as bathing, dressing and cooking, virtually impossible. Each week families who are struggling with this vicious disease visit my office seeking advice regarding finances, government benefits, housing alternatives and support groups. It's a very long and difficult road, but one that doesn't need to be traveled alone.

Unfortunately, the disease is quickly growing and a recent report noted the expected number of Alzheimer's cases could triple from 5 million currently to nearly 14 million by 2050, costing an estimated $1.1 trillion. Besides the human toll on the families and the patients, it is an overwhelming cost to the Medicare and Medicaid systems, which pay more than 70% of all related costs. It has been shown that patients with Alzheimer's will spend three times more on healthcare than patients with other types of illnesses. Medicare patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias spend $43,847 on healthcare and long-term care services annually, compared to $13,879 spent by patients without those illnesses. However, that leaves 30% of the overwhelming costs to the individuals.

Because the disease is progressive, early detection is crucial. If you see signs of Alzheimer's, which includes memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty completing daily tasks and confusion with time or place, see a physician immediately. In addition, it is critical you get your legal affairs in order, such as the power of attorney and healthcare proxy, so you have the peace of mind that other people are appointed to make decisions even when someone no longer has the capacity to make them. In addition, it is critical to have your finances in order and professionals to assist in obtaining benefits to avoid the overwhelming financial and emotional toll.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article shall be construed as legal advice or should be relied upon as such. Michael LaMagna is a partner at The Law Office of LaMagna & Associates, PC, practicing Health Care Regulatory, Elder /Estate Administration/Probate/Disability/Wills, Trusts and Estates, Social Security and General Legal practice in both New York and Connecticut. Email him at Mlamagna@nyandctlaw.com, call him at 914-437-5955 or visit Attorney LaMagna's website at www.nyandctlaw.com for more information. You can also follow Attorney LaMagna on Twitter@michaellamagna1.

posted by Michael LaMagna

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