In November of 2017, my mother was hospitalized for a urinary tract infection and the medications prescribed to combat the infection accelerated her dementia, and she is now living full time in an assisted living facility.
Nearly at the same time, Michele’s father was hospitalized for a heart arrhythmia and was prescribed medications that caused confusion, hallucinations and dementia and now he too is living full time in an assisted living facility with advanced dementia.
Obviously, dementia is becoming more and more common and it seems everybody knows or is connected to someone who has been diagnosed with this horrible mental disorder. The onset and progression of this condition is not merely emotionally and physically taxing on everyone involved, but it is also very costly.
- “In 2016, state daily averages ranged from $140-$770 daily for the full-time care of a patient diagnosed with dementia and this did not cover the cost of doctor’s visits, medications or personal hygiene products or services. And because Medicare does not pay for personal care in assisted livings facilities many who have a family member(s) diagnosed with dementia must pay out of pocket for this care. The other option is to hire in home care which ranges anywhere from $17-$27 an hour and typically has a 3-hour minimal charge daily.”[i] Either way the costs add up rapidly, $30,000 to $277,200 annually! And the average life expectancy once assisted living is needed for a person with dementia averages between 17 months and 38 months.[ii]
All in all, the average cost for the care of a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia can be financially draining. And so, it becomes paramount to, not only do everything possible to prevent this dreaded contention, but to financially plan so that if such a diagnosis is thrust upon you, or someone you love, it won’t destroy the finances that you and your loved ones have saved for other purposes.
One other factor needs to be considered and that is gender.
- 75% of females lived 2.9 years once they required assisted living while only 25% of the male populations lived that long once they required assisted living.[iii]
There are four types of dementia that have non-reversible cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Body and Frontal Temporal Dementia.[iv] Obviously, the intent of this article is not to differentiate between these different types of dementia but to share what is known that can postpone or even prevent the onset of this horrible condition.
- First of all, there is a strong irreversible link between dementia and the use of many commonly used medications for insomnia, allergies and depression according to the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medication.[v]
- Secondly, alcohol consumption increases the risk of dementia. And the more you drink the higher the risk becomes. You don’t have to be an alcoholic or even get drunk to be at an increased risk for developing dementia. Merely, regular drinking, even at the daily recommended limits, has been shown to be a risk factor in contributing to dementia.[vi]
- Thirdly, processed cheeses like American cheese and Cheez Whiz, as well as processed meats are associated risks that have been shown to hasten the onset and advance the stages of dementia.[vii]
- Finally, having an optimistic outlook on life, and your own aging specifically, can lower the risk of developing dementia. Research has documented that those who hold positive beliefs about aging have nearly a 44% lower risk of developing dementia over those who hold negative opinions about their aging. This was seen even among those who carried the APOE4 gene, a gene which is known to raise the risk for developing dementia.[viii]
Of course, planning around these known risk factors, along with wisely building up high cash values in participating whole life insurance, can drastically reduce the consequences that arise for those who are diagnosed with dementia. And it will make life much more comfortable for those who unfortunately do succumb to this cognitive disorder as well as the family members that are affected. Without the high cash values in our own participating whole life insurance policies, the care of our family members diagnosed with this horrid condition would be more than difficult.
Health truly is wealth! And planning today around tomorrow’s needs and possibilities takes careful consideration. Not only must we save and manage our money better, but we need to be careful about what medications we take, what we eat and drink and what we think about as well.
-By Tomas P. McFie, DC, PhD