When someone receives a diagnosis of dementia, it’s a stressful time for both the patient and their loved ones. While you’ll likely have many questions about the condition, one of the biggest concerns caregivers have is how the necessary care will be paid for. Long term medical care can get expensive fast and put a strain on the finances of loved ones, but for patients that qualify, disability insurance is available to help offset the cost of care.
Dementia is a general term used to describe symptoms that affect memory, cognitive abilities, and communication. There are many different diseases that can lead to dementia and while it usually affects older adults, it can affect people at any point in their lives. Although there is no cure for dementia, there are many innovative treatments being developed that can improve brain function and the quality of life for many patients.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The disease affects memory, language, and cognitive ability. It is progressive, meaning that it worsens over time. The risk of dementia increases with age, but younger people can still develop it at any point.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) often occurs with Parkinson’s Disease. Protein formations located in the brain called Lewy bodies can affect patients in a variety of ways and cause a range of symptoms depending on where in the brain they are located.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s and is caused by impaired blood flow to the brain. This often occurs because of a stroke, and symptoms range from cognitive deficits and mood disturbances to physical problems such as chronic weakness. Patients with vascular dementia also often develop vascular lesions in the brain.
Mixed dementia is a term used to describe multiple types of dementia that a patient develops at the same time. The most common type of mixed dementia is a combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The different symptoms of mixed dementia will vary but often include confusion, memory trouble, difficulty concentrating. Speech problems, behavioral trouble, and emotional problems are also common.
In some cases, Alzheimer’s is considered a disability, especially in the case of early onset Alzheimer’s. If the symptoms of Alzheimer’s will prevent the person from working for at least a year, then they might qualify for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
In order to qualify for SSDI, patients must meet the requirements of a disability listing. For patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, neurocognitive disorders are the most common disability listing that they qualify for.
Patients will need to present medical evidence that they have declined in:
The decline in these areas must be significant enough to cause the patient severe limitations in how they function.
The SSA will require documentation showing that the patient meets these qualifications. These documents can be obtained from a primary care physician or other specialists that the patient sees. They also take into consideration work evaluations and any attempts the patient has made to continue working.
In many situations, it can take disabled patients a long time to qualify for disability benefits, sometimes years. Compassionate Care allows patients with certain severe medical conditions to be approved quickly – sometimes in only a matter of weeks.
When it comes to dementia, patients who have been diagnosed with mixed dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies may be eligible for quick SSDI approval based on Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances initiative.
Patients with early onset Alzheimer’s will require varying degrees of care depending on how advanced their disease is. Different types of care may suit different patients and families better than others. The type of care a patient needs will also likely change over the course of the disease.
What Is It?
Home aides visit a patient’s home and assist with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and preparing food. Those with more progressed forms of memory impairment may prefer a home health aide, who typically has more medical training and can perform healthcare-related tasks in addition to the services provided by home aides.
Who Is It Best For?
Home aides are excellent for patients who are still able to live in their own home but need help completing basic tasks on a daily basis. Many patients might live with a family member or caregiver who still has their own job and isn’t available to attend to all of a patient’s needs on a daily basis.
What Is It?
Adult day care is a place where caregivers can leave their loved ones who need supervision during the day while they work or take care of other obligations. Care is typically limited to daytime hours; overnight or long-term care is not available with adult day care.
Who Is It Best For?
This is an excellent option for those with Alzheimer’s who live with a caregiver or family member who still works full or part-time and cannot be with their loved one all day. Most people do best in adult day care when they are still comfortable traveling outside of their home and socializing with others.
What Is It?
Respite care allows caregivers to take a break from their caregiving duties while the person with dementia still receives the care they need. Respite care can be provided at home by a professional, a volunteer, or a family member or it can be provided at a facility outside the home. Many caregivers use respite care while traveling, or when they simply are feeling overwhelmed and need assistance with their caregiving duties.
Who’s Is It Best For?
Respite care is a perfect option for patients who have caregivers that need a break from their duties. Caregivers need to relax, engage in other activities and take time for themselves so that they can continue to care for the patient without getting burnt out.
What Is It?
Residential memory care is for patients who can not live at home and need around the clock care. There, patients will be monitored by trained medical staff and receive individualized care. Services provided in residential memory care facilities include assistance with activities of daily living, meal service, and medical care.
Who Is It Best For?
Residential memory care is best for dementia patients in the later stages of the disease who need around the clock care and are no longer able to live in their own homes. These facilities provide the highest level of care of any memory care option.
Disability benefits can be used to pay for the memory care your loved one needs. Whether your loved one will be staying at home or entering a care facility, this can help ease the financial burden caregivers often experience face with long-term medical care. Those who wish to receive disability benefits must apply for SSDI through the SSA.
Recipients may use SSDI benefits towards paying for any type of memory care that they please. Unfortunately, SSDI likely won’t be enough to cover the full cost of memory care that your loved one will need.
In addition to SSDI, there are several other forms of financial assistance available for patients who need assistance paying for memory care.
Since every patient’s situation is unique, it can be helpful to complete surveys such as this to narrow down the types of assistance your loved one may qualify for. For more information on qualifying for SSDI, visit the Social Security Administration website.