Alzheimer’s: A Growing Concern for Long-Term Care As Population Ages
A new report released by the Alzheimer’s Association shows that a staggering one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Furthermore, even when dementia is not necessarily the cause of death, it can serve to speed up the decline of someone’s life as it interferes with their care for heart disease, cancer or other serious illnesses.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the report, with more than 5 million living with the disease today, and that number projected to increase to 13.8 million by 2050. What’s more, Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the U.S. without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression.
Impact of Disease on Long-Term Care, Costs
As the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias grows, spending for their care will increase dramatically. For people with these conditions, aggregate payments for healthcare, long-term care and hospice are projected to increase from $203 billion in 2013 to $1.2 trillion in 2050. Medicare and Medicaid cover about 70% of the costs of care.
The report shows that people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias generally receive more care from family members and other unpaid caregivers as their disease progresses. In addition, many people with dementia also receive paid services at home; in adult day centers, assisted living facilities or nursing homes; or in more than one of these settings at different times in the often long course of their illness.
In fact, 42% of residents in assisted living and residential care facilities had Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in 2010. Of all nursing home residents, 68% have some degree of cognitive impairment. Twenty-seven percent have very mild to cognitive impairment, and 41% have moderate to severe cognitive impairment. Of all Medicare beneficiaries who are age 65 and older and are living in a nursing home, 64% have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The report also shows that older people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias incur more hospital stays, skilled nursing facility stays and home healthcare visits than other older people.
When it comes to costs, in 2011, the average cost for basic services in an assisted living facility was $3,550 per month, or $42,600 per year. Seventy-two percent of assisted living facilities provided care to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and 52% had a specific unit for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In facilities that charged a different rate for individuals with dementia, the average rate was $4,807 per month, or $57,684 per year, for this care.
For nursing homes, in 2011, the average cost for a private room was $248 per day, or $90,520 per year. The average cost of a semi-private room was $222 per day, or $81,030 per year. About 80% of nursing homes providing care for people with Alzheimer’s disease charge the same rate regardless of whether the individual has Alzheimer’s. In the few nursing homes that charged a different rate, the average cost for a private room for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease was $13 higher and the average cost for a semi-private room was $8 higher. Fifty-five percent of nursing homes that provide care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias had separate Alzheimer’s special care unit.
The challenge for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is staffing (recruitment and retention), the need for increased beds (as the aging population increases), and adequate training. Those nursing homes providing the additional training required for Alzheimer’s patients show that the quality of care improves, according to one review cited in the report.
Caitlin-Morgan provides specialized insurance programs for nursing home & assisted living facilities. Please give us a call at 877.226.1027 to discuss how we can help you insure your clients.
Sources: Huffington Post, Alzheimer’s Association