Cancer, heart disease and dementia – three diseases that often involve long periods of decline before death. Two of the diseases – heart disease and cancer – frequently require expensive drugs, surgeries and hospitalizations. Dementia, on the other hand, has no effective treatments to slow its course. According to a New York Times article titled: “Costs for Dementia Care Far Exceeding Other Diseases”, when researchers asked which one of the diseases involved the greatest health care costs in the last five years of life, the answer they found might seem surprising. By far, the most expensive was dementia.
Over the last five years of life, the average total cost of care for each disease was:
- Dementia – $287,038.00
- Heart disease – $175,136.00
- Cancer – $173,383.00
The reason that the cost of dementia care was found to be so much higher is because the care typically needed – assistance with activities of daily living like eating, bathing and dressing – can continue for years and is not covered by Medicare. As the study noted, for many families, “the cost of caring for a dementia patient often consumed their entire household wealth.” Sadly, many families mistakenly assume Medicare will pick up the costs and fail to realize they are responsible for their loved ones’ care.
An elder law attorney can help you make sure you and your loved ones are protected.