No one wants to experience a loved one struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and unfortunately, it’s an all too common reality. It’s estimated that 14.7% of those over 70 years old are affected by dementia (Hurd). By 2030 that figure is projected to reach nearly 20% (Foster). It’s easy to feel helpless in watching the disease unfold, and with the rising costs of healthcare the diagnosis can feel debilitating.  

Managing any disease can create a change in your financial plan and dementia is no different. The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s can create a financial burden similar to heart disease or cancer and that the average annual cost for care is around $56,000 (Hurd). If the disease progresses severely and nursing home care is necessary, this is by far the largest cost of the disease – accounting for as much as 84% (Hux).

According to Lauren Foster, managing editor of Enterprise Investor, the average length of stay in a nursing home is 2.5 to 3 years but that number is skewed by short-term stays – for example a 30 day stay for a hip or knee replacement. In 2012 the national average for a private room in a long-term care facility was $90,250 per year, but depending on the area those costs could sky rocket to $240,000. Women are typically at risk for spending more because of their longer life expectancies.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s occurs from what is called Amyloid plaque in the brain. This plaque builds up over time and blocks neurons from functioning properly after years and years of buildup. Mark Milstein, a keynote speaker at a recent NAPFA conference, says brains are synonymous with factories, in they produce toxins and waste (like Amyloid plaque). Too much waste can cause a factory shutdown!

Fortunately, according to recent studies, there are now ways to lower the risk of dementia. It’s believed that 1/3 of the symptoms of dementia are preventable and 20% are reversible. By treating some of the below ailments, you could also be treating the effects of dementia.

  • Vitamin or hormone deficiency
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Poor hearing
  • Excessive stress
  • Poor diet
  • Inflammation in the body
  • Sleep apnea
  • Poor sleeping habits

Sleeping in particular has been shown to have a cleansing effect on the brain by reducing Amyloid plaque and other “brain waste;” therefore reducing the symptoms of dementia as well. While you are sleeping the brain shrinks itself up to 60% in size and squeezes toxins out of your brain cells (Milstein) – its like a shower for your mind! By fixing poor sleeping habits or sleep apnea, someone struggling with dementia could potentially lessen or erase some effects of the disease. It’s important to note, however, that over the counter sleep aids are not the answer to a good night’s sleep.

Your planning team at Marshall Financial Group is here to help to support you; if you are dealing with the effects of dementia yourself or helping to support a loved one struggling with the disease, please reach out to your advisor.

Sources:

Foster, Lauren. “Grappling with Alzheimer’s: Advising Clients on the High Costs of Aging.” CFA Institute, CFA Institute, 28 July 2017, blogs.cfainstitute.org/investor/2013/02/27/grappling-with-alzheimers-advising-clients-on-the-cost-of-long-term-care/.

Hux, M. J., et al. “Relation between Severity of Alzheimer’s Disease and Costs of Caring.” CMAJ, CMAJ, 8 Sept. 1998, www.cmaj.ca/content/159/5/457.

Hurd, Ph.D., M., Martorell, Ph.D., P., Delavande, Ph.D., A., Mullen, Ph.D., K. and Langa, M.D, Ph.D., K. (2019). Monetary Costs of Dementia in the United States | NEJM. [online] New England Journal of Medicine. Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmsa1204629 [Accessed 11 Jun. 2019].

Milstein, Mark. “The Surprising Secrets to Keeping the Aging Brain Young and Lowering Risk For Alzheimer’s.” NAPFA 2019 Spring Conference, 15 May 2019, JW Marriott Austin, Austin, TX. Keynote Address.