Published on:

The True Costs of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s

Costs of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s(Caption: Alzheimer’s disease can be highly stressful for caretakers.)

When Andrew “Bud” Kangas, of Appleton, Wisconsin, learned he had Alzheimer’s disease, he quickly handed over his finances to a family member. Like many Alzheimer’s sufferers, he simply became overwhelmed by his caretaking costs.

“It’s been a financial problem and we’re trying to get that under control,” said Kangas in a recent Apple Post-Crescent article. “I can’t handle the finances anymore.”

Kangas’s wife, Marge, is one of the two hundred thousand “invisible caretakers” in Wisconsin. Together, these caretakers provide nearly $2 billion annually in unpaid care, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The Association estimates that the average cost of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is about $30,000.

“[Alzheimer’s care] is a huge, escalating burden on both families and our society,” said Diana Butz, a spokeswoman for the Greater Wisconsin Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “It will bankrupt this country.”

True Costs

What Alzheimer’s statistics often fail to consider is the costs associated with the caretakers themselves. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, caretakers spent $8 billion on their own healthcare in 2010. 61 percent of caregivers said they regularly experienced “high to very high” stress levels.

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Since Alzheimer’s gets progressively worse – and is irreversible – caretakers are faced with a daunting task.

“There are no easy answers,” says Angela Lunde, a writer for the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s blog. “Loving someone with a disease like Alzheimer’s brings with it sadness, anger, grief and uncertainty…It can be heart wrenching.”

Avoiding Burnout: Warning Signs<

For non-professional caretakers, burnout remains a serious risk. The stresses of caring for a loved one 24/7 can strain even the most devoted companion or relative.

The Alzheimer’s Association says caregivers should be on alert for the following five psychological states, especially if they’re accompanied by specific repetitive phrases:

  • Denial – “I know my loved one will get better.”
  • Anger – “If (my loved one) asks me that one more time, I’ll scream!
  • Anxiety – “What happens if he needs more care than I can provide”
  • Social Withdrawal/Depression – “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.”
  • Exhaustion – “I can’t remember the last time I felt good.”

There are no easy answers when it comes to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, but there are wide networks of support. If you think you need additional help in caring for your loved one, call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 hotline at 800-272-3900.


Facing Alzheimer’s: Plight of the Caregivers June 20, 2011 WGBH Radio

Alzheimer’s Caregivers Need Care, Too April 27, 2011 US News and World Report

Client Reviews

  • Having worked in the medical field, I appreciated the way that Mr. Rosenfeld and his staff approached my family’s situation. The combination of medical knowledge and legal expertise was indeed the winning combination for our case.
  • While nothing can change the way our mother was treated at a nursing facility, I do feel a sense of vindication that the facility was forced to pay for their treatment. I am certain that they would never have done had my attorneys not held their feet to the fire.
  • I was very nervous about initiating a claim against my mother’s nursing facility, but Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers took care of everything from getting the medical records to going to court. I felt like I had real advocates on my side. That meant a lot to me.
  • After a horrific episode at a nursing home, my sister and I spoke to a number of law firms. No one took the time to answer our questions and explain the legal process like Mr. Rosenfeld. He did a tremendous job on our case and I can see why he’s earned the praise he has from clients and peers.
  • I liked the fact that I could call the office and ask questions about the legal process at anytime. I could tell that my case was in good hands. I think that this was reflected in my father’s settlement was more than I anticipated the case ever being worth.