More than 5 million Americans over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease — and a new senior is diagnosed every 65 seconds. While these numbers might seem shocking, what’s even more alarming are the numbers associated with cost of care. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it costs an estimated $277 billion a year for all Alzheimer’s and dementia-related care, with more than $60 billion in out-of-pocket costs.

For individuals, treatment and care for Alzheimer’s can wind up costing $56,800 annually. Typically, about 40 percent is covered by Medicare or private insurance and that leaves many families scrambling to cover 60 percent of costs. These numbers vary because different Alzheimer’s patients need different kinds of care, and their needs often change as the disease progresses. We’ve prepared a quick how-to guide on some of the most common topics associated with planning and paying for Alzheimer’s care.

Learning what Medicare does — and does not — cover

Medicare Part A provides coverage for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease so that you aren’t fully responsible for annual wellness assessments, diagnostic radiology tests, hospital and doctor visits, mental health services, and some prescription drugs. As the disease progresses and the care you need becomes more comprehensive, having supplemental insurance could help shoulder the financial burden. Medicare Part B will typically cover limited home health care, but not nursing care or assisted living facilities. When the disease progresses even further hospice care may be needed, which Medicare Part A will usually cover. Consider looking into Humana Medicare Advantage plans, which provide Medicare Parts A and B with additional benefits for prescriptions, dental and vision coverage. Some plans will even offer fitness options, caregiver support, and a 24/7 nursing advice line.

Finding the right kind of care

The kind of care you need depends on the stage of the disease. Adult daycare centers are a good, affordable option for people who need daytime care but stay with family or in-home caregivers at night. Instead of staying home and being isolated all day, these centers give people with dementia the chance to be social and active. As the disease progresses, some people need more comprehensive in-home care, which can cost upwards of $21 an hour. For those who transition into a residential facility, the costs can reach as much as $239 a day. When it comes down to choosing a caregiver or facility, it can be tricky to find a balance between affordability and quality. The gap between care needed and care covered often results in financial trouble and stress for families dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis— that’s why planning now is critical for a comfortable future.

Discovering alternative funding options

There are many ways to cover the out-of-pocket costs associated with Alzheimer’s. With a combination of these alternatives, you could make a dent in the costs associated with care. Starting with supplemental insurance coverage is key, but you can also purchase long-term care insurance and other policies that will cover additional expenses. Other people are able to get some much-needed cash in hand when they sell a life insurance policy or take out a reverse mortgage on their home. There are definitely some drawbacks to these options, so it’s important you weigh the pros and cons carefully, and even consider talking to a financial advisor. There are also organizations and programs that offer financial help for many disabilities, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, such as Home Instead Senior Care, BrightFocus Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

When you hear an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and scared. The long-term reality of this progressive disease means your future is uncertain and maybe even unpredictable. Understanding the most common and most important topics about the health care costs associated with Alzheimer’s can provide you with not only a plan but also peace of mind.


June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.