Americans underestimate senior care costs

A crisis may be growing around the need for senior care, and a lack of realistic perceptions and planning for it.

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“The trials and tribulations of child care are widely discussed and known,” said Jody Gastfriend, vice president of Senior Care at Care.com. “However, those issues are only part of the care challenges families face. Nearly half of U.S. adults in their 40s and 50s are already in the Sandwich Generation caring for a child and an aging parent. And with the number of people over the age of 65 set to nearly double by 2050, the emotional and financial weight of senior care is only going to intensify for families.”

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Testing long-term memory may provide earlier Alzheimer’s warning

 

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The current tests for Alzheimer’s disease assess short-term memory. A new study by scientists at the University of Edinburgh indicates that testing memory over a long timescale may help doctors detect the disease earlier.

Early detection of Alzheimer’s is important to give doctors the best chance of treating it. The researchers recommend a long-term memory test combined with a brain scan to identify early abnormalities that might otherwise go undetected.

Doctors giving the test would ask pagenworth nursing cost 2016tients to remember events from several years ago, rather than from earlier that day.

In the study, published in the Journal Nature Communications, scientists taught two groups of mice, one with Alzheimer’s and one healthy, to find a hidden platform in a pool of water, using signs on the wall to navigate. When tested shortly after the initial training, both grou
ps of mice were able to remember where the platform was. However, one week later, the mice with Alzheimer’s had much more difficulty remembering how to get there. Brain activity tested normal in both groups of mice when no task was given.

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by beta amyloid proteins building up in the brain to form plagues and tangles. These formations cause loss of connection between nerve cells and eventually result in the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue.

Alzheimer’s and other dementias present one of the biggest challenges in health care today.

For statistics on Alzheimer’s disease, go to Guide To Long Term Care – Alzheimer’s


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New blood test for Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have developed a blood test to detect early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists at Rowan University in New Jersey have developed a blood test that can detect mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI usually appears ten or more years before the severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Not everyone with mild cognitive impairment goes on to get Alzheimer’s. MCI can be caused by multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, vascular problems, depression, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions.

HomeNursingHomeAccording to researchers at Rowan, their blood test can distinguish between different forms of cognitive impairment, and, using a small number of blood-borne autoantibody biomarkers, can predict with nearly 100 percent accuracy the cases that will progress to advanced Alzheimer’s disease.

The study tested the blood of 236 subjects, 50 of whom had MCI. If the original findings are confirmed by a larger study, doctors could use the test to make treatment recommendations. The care of those who have early Alzheimer’s would be different from those who have MCI for different reasons.

Early detection of Alzheimer’s is important so that treatment can begin when it is most beneficial, before a lot of brain changes have occurred.

The research will be published in a future issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, see Guide To Long Term Care.

It is estimated that unpaid family members take up 2/3 of the cost of long term care. Long term care insurance can help pay for both home care and nursing home care. Two LTC insurance companies include a (limited) cash benefit that can be used to pay family members, many of these policies have Partnership asset protection. Also available are life policies with long term care riders and some companies have a cash benefit.

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Home care and nursing home care – some facts

In the United States, over 65 million people provide home care to someone who is ill or disabled.

Elderly people who live at home and have trouble with 3 or more activities of daily living require an average of 9 hours of assistance per day (from paid or unpaid caregivers), and once they reach age 85  they require about 11 hours of assistance per day.

There are about 52 million caregivers assisting adults over age 18, with about 44 million caring for adults over 50; around 15 million family caregivers help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

ltcstudyTwo out of three (66%) people who receive home care rely solely on family members, usually wives or daughters. Another 26% receive a combination of family care and paid help; and 9% receive paid help only. Of family members caring for the elderly, 30% are themselves over 65, and 15% are age 45–54.

Nursing home patients are 75-80% women. Many of them care for their husbands at home, then have no one to care for them.

Lost income and benefits over a caregiver’s lifetime are estimated at $283,716 for men or $324,044 for women.

The great majority (80%) of elderly people who need assistance live in private homes rather than institutions. However, community-based care accounts for only about 18% of long term care expenditures for the elderly. Care in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) costs four times as much as paid care at home. In addition to being less expensive, home care is what most Americans prefer.

For those who need nursing home care, the average price per year of skilled care in a semi-private room is $82,000 in 2016. It varies by region: Texas is $55,000 a year; California $91,000; Connecticut $148,000; Alaska $292,000. Skilled care in a private room is about 10% more. Assisted living costs are about half of nursing home costs.

By contrast, private paid care in a patient’s home costs about a third as much as care in a nursing home, depending on how much care the patient needs. However, if the home patient needs round-the-clock skilled care it can cost $10,000 – $15,000 a month, which is comparable to nursing home costs or even more expensive.

About half of people who go into a nursing home will stay no longer than 6 months; the other half average 3-4 years.

It is estimated that unpaid family members take up 2/3 of the cost of long term care. Long term care insurance can help pay for both home care and nursing home care. Two LTC insurance companies include a (limited) cash benefit that can be used to pay family members, many of these policies have Partnership asset protection. Also available are life policies with long term care riders and some companies have a cash benefit.

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American death rate rises for the first time in a decade; attributed to drug overdose, suicide and Alzheimer’s

For the first time since 2005, the United States mortality rate has increased. There were 729.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, and  723.2 in 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Experts say the increase could be connected to an increase in suicides, Alzheimer’s disease, and drug overdoses among white working class Americans.

The national mortality rate has been on a steady decline for years so an increase is unusual. For example, American Deaths per 100,000 people were 885.9 in 2002; 813.7 2004; 815 in 2005; 723.2 in 2014; and 729.5 in 2015. Heart disease and cancer are by far the largest killers of Americans.

The last increase in mortality was in 2005, during a bad flu season.

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Physicians blamed more U.S. deaths on Alzheimer’s disease in 2015 than in 2014. During a period when the age-adjusted death rate for heart disease, cancer, pneumonia and influenza held steady, the age-adjusted death rate for Alzheimer’s disease increased from 25.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2014 to 29.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. Some observers say the rise in Alzheimer’s deaths may simply reflect more accurate recording on death certificates.

Drug overdoses rose in 2015. In the second quarter of 2014, the rate was 14.2 per 100,000 and for the same quarter in 2015, it was 15.2. Numbers for the second half of 2015 have not yet been released.

Suicides rose from 12.7 per 100,000 in the third quarter of 2014 to 13.1 in the same quarter of 2015.

Over a 40 year period, Alzheimer’s disease is projected to cost $20 trillion in constant dollars to Medicare and Medicaid alone, rising to over $1 trillion per year by 2050.

For more information and statistics on Alzheimer’s, see Guide To Long Term Care.


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A vaccine for Alzheimer’s in the future?

Researchers at Harvard Medical School are looking at the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by microbial infections that cause plaque to form in the brain. If the plaques form as a defense mechanism against an infection, a vaccination to prevent the infection could protect against Alzheimer’s.

Beta amyloid plaques in the brain have been linked to Alzheimer’s, but their function has not been understood. New research shows the beta amyloid protein is an anti-microbial compound that protects against invading pathogens.

Experiments with mice suggest the plaques may form to protect the brain against infection, but if they remain for too long they can lead to inflammation and ultimately to Alzheimer’s.

A team led by Jacobus Jansen of Maastricht University in the Netherlands studied MRI brain scans, and found people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease had more permeable blood-brain barriers; they may have gotten the disease because their brains were more vulnerable. This evidence supports the possibility that infection may be the cause.

It may take years to find out which pathogens are involved and to develop medicine to fight them. If many microbes are involved, it will be hard to make a vaccine that will immunize against them all.

Alzheimer’s is considered the cause of up to 70 percent of dementias.

For more information on Alzheimer’s, see Guide To Long Term Care.


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The Cost of Long Term Care Insurance versus The Cost of Not Insuring

The cost of long term care insurance policies may seem high to some people, but it may actually be a less expensive in the long run than not insuring.

Not insuring and depending on family caregiving has hidden costs:

Lost income. Family members sometimes must leave their jobs to care for aging parents. The consequences are lost salary, lost Social Security benefits, and difficulty getting back into the job market after the absence. Also, leaving a job can mean loss of health insurance.

Increased Health Risks. Caregiving is stressful physically and psychologically and may result in injury or illness to the caregiver. Because of the demands of caregiving, including financial demands, family caregivers may be less able to take care of themselves and their own health.
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Lost Retirement Assets and Less Investment in the Family. In a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, 47% of working caregivers reported using up all or most of their savings while giving care. These costs can mean less money available for such expenses as retirement and the education of children.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says nearly 70 percent of those 65 or older will need long term care at some point. Since nursing home costs can be $80,000 a year or more, having long term care insurance is an essential part of financial planning. Long Term Care Insurance can pay the expenses of both family care in the home, and institutional care.


 

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