The cost of Alzheimer's care for families

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Alzheimer's caregivers are sacrificing more and more each year to care for their loved ones. In the state of Nebraska last year, there were over 83,000 caregivers for people with Alzheimer's. Many of those people went unpaid for their thousands of hours of work and families are giving up more time and money every year.

“It's just infiltrates every day, every hour of your life,” MaryAnn Carson of Grand Island said.

Families who have dealt with dementia or Alzheimer's in a loved one often end up being caregivers without pay and insurance doesn't always cover every medical expense that comes along with the diagnosis or old age.

“The cost of care is extremely expensive,” Alzheimer's Association Community Educator Lori Reiner said. “You're talking about medications, you're talking about paying for home health services, you're talking about things that fall through the cracks sometimes with what insurance and medicare will pay.”

In nebraska, over $360 million will be spent from Medicaid on Alzheimer's patients in 2019.

Carson's mother had dementia after suffering a stroke. Being her only child Carson had to give up her job and take on many of her mother's expenses.

“I mean we all would do it over again,” Carson said. “But you do grieve, you grieve for their loss of independence and your own loss. I'm just in my early 60's and I thought oh I will have time to go play with the grandchildren...just physically was too tired.”

For those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, they are faced growing medical costs and assisted living situations are not always an option. It can also take a mental toll on those who decided they will be changing their lives to help out.

“I think the thing is when you first get the diagnosis, you go through a period of shock and denial and you kind of go on autopilot because there's so many things you have to tackle all at once,” Reiner said.

These sacrifices are becoming more common as the number of people with Alzheimer's and dementia continues to grow nationwide.

In 2017, 698 Nebraskans died from Alzheimer's, most people agree it is important to get regular cognitive assessments but only about 16% say they actually get them.

The Alzheimer's Association hopes more people will check for signs of dementia and Alzheimer's.