Alzheimer’s More Deadly Than Cancer?

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist shares our eagerness to attract the presidential contenders’ attention to long-term care in this Forbes article titled “A Charge To Presidential Hopefuls: A Plan For Alzheimer’s“.

Quote:  “One in five Americans are obese. One in four has a risk of dying from cancer in their lifetime. But one in three that live beyond 65 will die with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. All these ailments have significant health impacts. The difference? We have solutions to treat obesity and can cure some cancers. Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.”

As a nation we are not doing nearly enough to study and search for a cure for Alzheimer’s. And yet the baby boomers continue to march into retirement at a rate of 10,000 every day. Many of them think they will move in with children like people did in the 1950’s, but they did not have enough children, those children are all working and do not have the time, space, or finances to take us in.

I say us because I am 65 years old.  I am working full time as I enjoy my work and life, and am hoping that by continuing to work I may put off the risk of dementia (but no guarantees of that).  At 65 years of age, one in eight of us have dementia.  By 85 it is about half of us.  There are many other things that will require day to day help in later years as well and we did not have enough children to staff the care facilities we will need.

Assisted living facilities are going up like mushrooms as they are profitable from residents who can pay their own way.  Many skilled nursing facilities do not have that financial luxury as their profit center is the short term stays following a hospital stay for recovery that Medicare pays for.  Those stays are short, and when the resident must turn to Medicaid, the facility loses money on the woefully low reimbursement.  If you lose money on every resident, can you make it up on volume?

I am very fortunate that I purchased LTC insurance back in 2001.  The policy has automatically grown larger every year to keep pace with inflation. It was reasonably priced as I did not have arthritis and diabetes then.  If a person is healthy, appropriately chosen LTC insurance can at least provide the funds to find care when your health changes.  That is far preferable to spending down to Medicaid impoverishment, and then trying to find a suitable care provider that will accept you.

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