Increasing numbers of older persons are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, imposing significant financial as well as emotional burdens on those who care for them outside of institutional settings, the SSA has said.
It said that in 2016, some 15 million persons provided an estimated 18 billion hours of unpaid care for more than 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, “often at the cost of personal and financial sacrifices.”
“Caring for relatives suffering from this debilitating condition is truly a labor of love, and unfortunately, comes with high costs … A large percentage of those who are caregivers of someone with Alzheimer’s cut back on their own expenses (including food, transportation and medical care) to pay for dementia-related care of a family member or friend. Many caregivers reduce or quit working to provide care for a loved one, resulting in a loss of income,” it said.
It added that people age 65 and older survive an average of 4 to 8 years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia–some live as long as 20 years–and that traditional health insurance plans and Medicare do not typically cover long-term nursing home stays that people in the late stages of the disease often require.
The agency underscored the cost issue in a notice emphasizing that it includes early-onset Alzheimer’s as a “compassionate allowances” condition for the Social Security Disability Insurance program, providing expedited review of benefit applications.