SPECIAL REPORT: The financial toll of Alzheimer's Disease

Without insurance, care can cost thousands a month

TYLER, Texas (KETK) - Dan Heldman and his wife Debby got married 46 years ago. Together, weathering the ups and downs of life. So he says, being there for her, as she started losing her memory came easily.

"When you make that long term commitment it's a lot easier in some respects to go to full care," Heldman says.

Dan and Debby recently moved from Virginia to Tyler, to be near family. But in the last year or so before she died, her dementia began getting worse. That's when Dan realized he couldn't care for her on his own anymore.

"We had excellent medical insurance but long term health care we couldn't get," Heldman says. "She was uninsurable and I was old enough that the premiums would be extraordinarily high."

He quickly learned that securing full time non-hospice care in the area wasn't cheap.

Valerie rushing of the east texas area agency on aging explains why. "The problem is assisted livings are private pay so you could be spending anywhere from 6-8 thousand dollars a month because of the level of care people with Alzhiemers require"

Dan and his wife were paying $5,200 a month for her "level 5" care.

Groups like the "East Texas Agency on Aging say they are here to help. They offer various services for caregivers, and help people with Alzheimer's get the care they need.

Rochelle Byrdsong, a lead case manager says, "Those services are temporary but we do usually try to bridge the gap with other entities because they have other programs that are not funded by us."

The East Texas Area Agency on Aging also helps caregivers find the right assisted living facility or nursing home for their loved one with the disease. If needed, staff will help East Texans navigate the cost of care too. 

"Other options are nursing homes, most have some staff that are trained in Alzheimer's - Dementia," Rushing adds. "There is a Medicaid program that will do some assisted living. They just have to contract with the state. It's called the Medicaid waiver program...

The cost of dementia care is a big issue worldwide too. The estimated annual cost is 600 billion dollars.

If you'd like help, contact your local Alzheimer's Alliance or East Texas Area Agency on Aging branch.


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