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Dementia can be a personal and financial challenge

Dementia can be a personal and financial challenge

February 18, 2016

Danielle Arbour, Public Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society Hamilton Halton
Danielle Arbour, Public Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society Hamilton Halton

One of the most significant challenges of growing old is declining mental ability. There is a 50 percent chance you will have some form of dementia by the time you reach age 85.

Dementia is a game changer. It affects where and how you live, your close personal and family relationships, and will put a strain on your financial resources.

Most Canadians will be affected by some form of dementia. Either directly, with a spouse, or other family member.

Recently I had the most fortunate opportunity to listen to a presentation by Danielle Arbour, Public Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Hamilton and Halton. She was both informative and entertaining. We suggest that if you are involved with a group, that you request Danielle to be a guest speaker.

The Alzheimer Society of Hamilton and Halton have resources available to assist family members and caregivers. They can be reached online or by phone: 289-837-2310

This column will convey some of the information Danielle provided plus we will add some financial considerations.

The definition of dementia is a set of symptoms that cause a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.

As of 2011 there were close to 750,000 Canadians living with dementia. It is anticipated that number will grow to 1.4 million by the year 2031.

In Halton there are now 8,300 dementia cases with people aged 65 and older. Half of those with dementia continue to live in the community.

There are many different causes of dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, and it is irreversible.

Over time, the cell death and tissue loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease cause the brain to shrink, and its efficiency declines. In the later stages simple tasks of routine living are out of reach.

The top five things you can do to lessen the chances of dementia are: socialization, physical exercise, mental exercise, nutrition, and head protection.

Being proactive to stay mentally healthy is fine, and recommended, but there is also a reality check. The single most useful predictor of dementia is age.

The older you get, the more likely dementia will occur.

One of the challenges of growing old is to anticipate what potentially lies ahead. Although this may be awkward for many of us, it is better to plan ahead while we are still in control and of sound mind.

There are many financial implications of aging including what happens if dementia occurs. At some point it might be required to move from your family home into assisted living.

That is very expensive. Especially if your spouse continues to live at home.

Home care is available and that too has a cost. However at some point moving to a facility more able to care for the person with dementia will be the best option.

Anticipating the expense of growing old is the starting point.

We recommend cash flow projections be done at least every year to estimate your future living costs and how those costs will be funded. Make an assumption that at a certain age your living costs will increase.

We can’t predict the future, however as a planning exercise it makes perfect sense. Do you have the financial resources to provide you and your loved ones the lifestyle that is hoped for in later years?

In simple terms, life happens… plan ahead.