After receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, the cost of future care may not immediately come to mind.

It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s important. Talking about financial needs and goals early on enables the person with Alzheimer's disease to understand the issues, clarify his or her wishes and participate in making financial and care plans. In addition, planning ahead offers families the greatest number of choices and helps to prevent crises later.

Key considerations

This difficult conversation is one confronting many families. One in 9 Americans age 65 or older has Alzheimer’s — a total of 5.2 million people — and that number is expected to triple by 2050. Patients typically live 4 to 8 years after diagnosis, and families can quickly exhaust their savings caring for them.

While financial planning can be challenging, there are key factors to consider. Experts suggest that families create a long-term budget. Consider all of the costs you might face now and in the future. Keep in mind that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and a person’s needs change over time.

“No one ever says they wish they had waited to make a plan.”

Alzheimer’s-related costs may include: prescription drugs, personal care supplies, adult day care services, in-home care services and full-time residential care services. While medical or other forms of insurance may cover some of these costs, they may not cover all of them.

Gaps in coverage can often catch families unprepared. A 2016 report found that two-thirds of people surveyed incorrectly believe — or weren’t sure — if Medicare pays for nursing home care. It does not.

How to prepare

It’s important for families to conduct an inventory of their financial resources (savings, insurance, retirement benefits, government assistance, VA benefits, etc.). Financial advisors and elder care lawyers can help. Community resource finders connect families to these professionals and other local resources by zip code.

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is never easy. But planning ahead can make a huge difference. No one ever says they wish they had waited to make a plan. It’s important for families to be proactive and make a financial plan now, identifying resources that can help. Addressing these issues sooner rather than later helps get family members on the same page and provides some peace of mind during an incredibly difficult time.