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Alzheimer's Disease

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Alzheimer's disease has become more prevalent as medical technology has improved and the population ages. Many seniors suffer from one form of dementia or another. Living day-to-day with dementia or Alzheimer's can put a strain on any family. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 14 million people will develop Alzheimer's by the middle of this century.

TIP: For more detailed information about Alzheimer's contact:

Alzheimer's Association

919 North Michigan Ave., Suite 100

Chicago, IL 60611

24-hour hotline: 1.800.272.3900

Will Medicare cover the cost of my spouse's Alzheimer's care?

Medicare will cover some, but not all of the services required to care for Alzheimer's. For example, it does not cover the cost of long-term nursing home care.

TIP: The Alzheimer's Association and the American Bar Association have started the Medicare Advocacy Project to help Medicare beneficiaries who have Alzheimer's disease. For information on this program, see their web site.

Medicare denied my claims for some of my Alzheimer's treatment. What can I do?

Make sure your treatment of Alzheimer's is billed under the correct billing code. If treatment is billed under an older dementia code, you may have to pay more. Medicare can also no longer automatically deny you coverage for rehabilitative services based on a dementia diagnosis. It now has to determine coverage on a case-by-case basis.

Can I receive home health care benefits from Medicare for the treatment of my spouse's Alzheimer's?

Yes. Medicare should cover home health care services for "homebound" Medicare beneficiaries.

Caution: Medicare's definition of homebound is very strict, so be sure to check with your physician as to the most current definition.

My spouse was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Can I still purchase long-term care insurance?

Once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it is generally too late to apply for long-term care insurance. That is why it is important for you and your spouse to make informed decisions about your long-term care options before the choice is made for you.

I am the primary caregiver for my husband who has Alzheimer's, and I am exhausted. What kind of help can I get?

As the primary caregiver, you need to take a break and have some time to rest. Families, friends and your spiritual advisor can help on a daily basis, but you may need more time than that. Contact home health providers. They can send someone to your house on a regular basis to allow you some free time. Other services may help you with your shopping or cooking. Another option is an adult day care facility. These facilities can provide your spouse with activities geared toward Alzheimer's patients. Some facilities even provide "respite care"-they will provide full-time care for the Alzheimer sufferer for a short period of time, usually a few days.

TIP: Call your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association for more information on services in your area.