Jean Dorrell knew something was wrong when the birthday card her father usually sends two weeks ahead of schedule didn’t arrive in the mail.
“This past year he forgot my birthday and he forgot my brothers’ birthdays, so we realized he was slipping pretty fast,” says Dorrell, a certified financial planner and founder of Senior Financial Security in Summerfield, Florida.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a devastating blow, one that requires immediate action to ensure the financial resources built over a lifetime can sustain a person through this progressive and fatal disease.
The costs associated with Alzheimer’s can be just as debilitating as the symptoms. In 2004 – the latest data available – the cost of caring for a Medicare patient with Alzheimer’s or other dementia was $42,072 compared to $13,515 for patients without these conditions. (Those figures have been adjusted for 2010 dollars).
And the costs are climbing: Healthcare, long-term care and hospice payments for Alzheimer’s and dementia are projected to increase from $183 billion in 2011 to $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2011 dollars), the AA report states.
Despite the hefty price tag for care, the financial services industry seems ill-prepared to deal with the needs of this particular group. Even though 84 percent of financial advisers have come in contact with a client who suffers from Alzheimer’s, 96 percent don’t feel ready to assist, according to a 2009 study from Fidelity Investments. Kevin Kautzmann, a certified financial planner with EBNY Financial LLC in New York, says that’s got to change. “While there is a prevailing fear within the industry of accusing a client inappropriately and getting fired for it, if the issue is handled with respect and sensitivity, clients and their families respond very well to the fact that their financial adviser is genuinely concerned about their loved ones,” Kautzmann says.