By: Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho
Dementia is in the news – both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had long reviews of current research about this illness. Dementia now is more costly than treating cancer and heart disease in this country. There is no treatment and there is no cure for this disease.
At least 75% of the cost of Dementia is to pay for care in a person’s home or a facility. People need help because they are incapable of caring for themselves due to problems with memory, concentration and daily activities. Even if they stay in their home, eventually the family can no longer provide the needed care because the level of care required is too high, or the family burns out. The costs of care include the cost of hiring in-home care, paying for residential care in an assisted living or nursing home setting, and lost wages of family caregivers. The actual cost is more widespread and not officially measured. When children financially help provide for their parents, that impacts the children’s financial future. The studies do not measure the tremendous emotional cost to a spouse or children who are caregivers.
What is the Idaho twist on this issue? On April 1, the Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group released a Statewide Alzheimer’s plan, which was presented to the Idaho Legislature. “There are about 76,000 caregivers that are taking care of these individuals at about an annual cost of unpaid care of $1 billion a year in Idaho,” says Troy Rohn, Boise State University Professor.
Families need information to help them access support services. Idaho has a great resource–the 2-1-1 Idaho CareLine, a free statewide community Information and Referral service. This is a program of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Their comprehensive database includes programs that offer free or low cost Health and Human services or social services, such as Rental Assistance, Energy Assistance, Medical Assistance, Food and Clothing and more. Agents at the 2-1-1 Idaho Careline connect people in need with government, faith-based, and community resources. For assistance, dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-926-2588.
 Wall Street Journal, Thursday, April 4, 2013, ”Dementia’s Cost to Nation Piles Up” Shirley S. Wang, page A3.
The New York Times, Thursday, April 4, 2013, “Dementia Study Predicts a Surge in Costs and Cases”, by Pam Belluck, page 1.