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Latest numbers on dementia show the growing need for long-term care planning as part of an effective estate plan.

An infographic recently published by the Population Reference Bureau gives a comprehensive summary of new demographic research on dementia trends. Generally dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms that impact memory, activities, and communication of an individual, while Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. There is a growing array of research in this area, but this 2018 special supplement to the Journals of Gerontology has a few key findings:

  • The good news is the percentage (%) of Americans with dementia is actually declining by 1-2.5% per year.
  • The bad news is the projected number of people with dementia and/or impacted by family members with dementia continues to climb up and up with no end in sight. As people live longer and the baby boomer generation ages, the absolute number of people impacted by dementia is going off the charts.
  • ​​​​​​​Interestingly, the higher educated the American, the lower their risk of dementia based on the results of the study. For instance, adults who don’t finish high school have a risk three times (3x) that of a college graduate.
  • Also, dementia appears to impact certain demographics more than others. For instance, the poorest quarter of the population is 7-10 times more likely to have dementia than the richest quarter of the population. Additionally, the risk of dementia appears to be 3-4 times higher for the African American population than the white population.
  • ​​​​​​​As you can imagine, the total cost for dementia, and the care required for it, is growing very fast. It is expected to double by 2040. The ability for many Americans to absorb this cost is very low, and the ability for the traditional government programs (i.e. Medicaid) to cover these costs is also low. The research also found delaying the onset of dementia by as little as two years can significantly reduce the cost of care.

​​​​​​​The infographic on these studies is available here, and sourcing for the actual studies are provided with it.

So, what does all this mean, and what can we really do about it?

There will continue to be more medical research on dementia and Alzheimer’s. Most of the drugs, and other medical solutions, are designed to extend the quality of life for those impacted by dementia. This usually means higher care costs as care is extended over more years. Additionally, enhancements for care procedures continue to improve, even including artificial intelligence (i.e. robots) to reduce these costs.

​​​​​​​But what this really means for our purposes is that Americans must factor long-term care planning into their overall planning process ​​​​​​​– their retirement planning and their general planning for the future. This isn’t happening as much as it should be happening with most families, and this often leads to expensive crisis planning when long-term care needs suddenly arise. Ideally, planning ahead should include a coordinated effort with the family’s financial advisor (if they have one), their insurance providers, their attorney, and other care advisors involved in their planning. Today this coordinated planning is rare, and often reserved for the higher wealth clients who can actually afford to private pay for their long-term care needs.

Long-Term Care Planning continues to evolve, and it is not just about documents or insurance. It also includes understanding your own family risks, finding ways to continue mentally challenging your own mind, and developing a flexible plan that will evolve with your own life journey. In this blog post we examine a few options for covering the actual costs of long-term care. Every client has different needs, but this comprehensive list provides alternatives to consider.

We encourage all clients to form their own team of advisors (financial, attorney, accountant, health care, family members, etc.) as they determine their needs. This team should help educate the family for the future, and also help them structure their own long-term care plan. None of us can predict the future, but all of us can take steps to educate ourselves and reduce our own risks associated with long-term care. Get started learning about effective long-term planning on our blog.

If you’d like to talk more about this aspect of your overall plan, please give us a call at (913) 345-2323. There is no one solution that works for all clients, so there is no quick fix, but there are growing bundles of solutions attempting to reduce the risk of financial loss if your family is impacted in the future.

If you live long enough, there will usually be a long-term care phase to your future. Statistics tell us if you make it to 70 you have a 70% chance of needing some sort of long-term care. Why not be prepared for this phase with an ongoing long-term care plan coordinated between your family advisors? It will certainly make this difficult time of life a little easier on you and your loved ones.

We will be glad to work with other members of your overall team to support your own coordinated needs, or we’d be happy to help you build your overall team for the future.

Give us a call at 913-345-2323 today!