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The Cost of Dementia Care in 2018

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenAugust 13, 2018

A recent study by Northwest Mutual Insurance discovered that caregivers in the United States are spending more money on caring while financially planning less. The study found that 7 in 10 caregivers reported lowering their own spending to be able to pay for caregiving costs for a parent or senior loved one.

Learn more about the cost of dementia care in the U.S. and the increased financial pressure on caregivers caring for senior loved ones.

The C.A.R.E. Study

The 2018 Costs, Accountabilities, Realities and Expectations (C.A.R.E.) Study polled Americans on many aspects of caregiving and longevity.

The C.A.R.E. Study examined four categories of long-term care planning, including:

  • Costs: Financial plans and long-term care considerations
  • Accountabilities: Obligations and responsibilities of caregiving
  • Realities: Experience of caregiving
  • Emotions: The mindset of both the caregiver and care recipient

Data from the study were gathered from online surveys among 1,004 adults, aged 18 and older in the U.S. The demographics of people polled included over 200 people aged 35-49 and just over 700 experienced caregivers. The report was published in March of 2018.

The Cost of Dementia Care

Facts and figures from the C.A.R.E. report include:

  1. Average expenses included $273 per month, spent on medical supplies and $159 per month on food.
  2. 67% of caregivers reported reducing their own living expenses to pay for caregiving costs (this number was up from 51% last year).
  3. 57% of future caregivers expect to have personal costs of providing care, but 48% have not planned financially (a jump from only 35% last year).
  4. 53% of American caregivers say the caregiving situation was not planned and many were financially unprepared for the event.
  5. Only 48% of caregivers reported that they were financially ready to provide financial support.
  6. 34% of current caregivers report their monthly spending on caregiving-related expenses is between 21-100% of their budget.

“While financial expectations for caregivers continue to grow, unfortunately planning is taking a back seat,” Kamilah Williams-Kemp, Vice President of Long-Term Care at Northwestern Mutual, states.

“In an environment of rising costs and fluctuating economic and healthcare realities, winging it isn’t an option. Being proactive before a long-term event happens can help ensure that you can still take care of your own needs while caring for someone else’s well-being.”

Another report from the Alzheimer’s Association furthers this point, detailing the cost of dementia care in the U.S. and its impact on families:

  • In 2017, 18.4 billion hours of care, valued at $232 billion, were provided by family and unpaid caregivers
  • 83% of the help provided to older adults in the U.S. come from family members, friends and other unpaid caregivers
  • The total lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia is estimated to be $341,840, with the costs associated with family care to be 70% of lifetime dementia care costs
  • 41% of dementia caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less

Ways to Plan for Dementia Caregiving

Although many Americans are well aware of the impending costs — and probability — of a caregiving or long-term care event in the future, a large number of Americans polled said they have not planned financially.

“According to our data, Gen X and even Millennials are the heart of the sandwich generation and struggling with the competing pressures of caring for aging family members and their own children while building financial security and maintaining a lifestyle,” noted Williams-Kemp.

“To break this cycle, it’s imperative to have candid conversations with family members about your expectations and work together to develop a realistic strategy for your future care that will serve everyone’s best interests.”

What has dementia care cost you or a senior loved one this year? We’d like to hear more about your dementia care costs in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen

Sherry Christiansen

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