My mom went in for surgery to have her left knee replaced in 2005 and the day after the surgery she fell in the hospital tearing all the knee ligaments in her knee. After 13 unsuccessful surgeries to try and repair the damage, she finally gave up her independence and accepted her new fait of being wheelchair bound for the rest of her life.
If that’s where the story ended it would be sad, but manageable. Over the next couple of years her lack of mobility slowly started to creep into her mind to where her cognitive functions declined. She developed dementia which slowly bleed into Alzheimer’s; as I type this blog she has needed care for 13 years. Her case is an extreme example of course but for those who are 45-65, whose time horizon for needing care is 20-40 years, the problem will get much worse.
The great Wayne Gretzky had a famous saying, ” you got to see where the puck is going, not where it is.” The average Alzheimer’s stay is currently 8-12 years but the key predictor for the future of the cutting edge therapy of modern medicine. There are biotech companies that have in their pipelines drugs that will not eliminate Alzheimer’s, but bring the progression to a slow motion pace. There are current biotech companies that will have drugs out in the next five to ten years that will double the average length a person can live with it, but mesh that with cutting edge gene therapy and nano technology that can target the plaque on the brain that seem to cause the Alzheimer’s symptoms, then you could be talking about a 23 year Alzheimer’s stay.
Alzheimer’s cost today about $100,000 to treat in a nursing home and it’s common such in my mom’s case to have $1,000,000+ in Alzheimer’s related expenses. By the year 2050 the care is expected to cost $300,000 per year to treat Alzheimer’s and if care is needed anywhere close to the 23 year projection it would coat you about $8,000,000.
Where will you get that kind of money?
There are still a few long term care insurance companies that still have an unlimited benefit period and that has been a growing trend in the past twenty years of buying long term care insurance by spending pennies to protect the dollars. If you never need care you spent money on annual long term care premiums and the kids get a hundred thousands of so less in inheritance, But if you do need care and have the long term care insurance, then you just saved the family potentially millions.