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The Cost of Dementia Care is Bankrupting Us

by Judy Cornish

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care services during their lives. Twenty percent of them will need institutional care for more than five years.

The cost of dementia care and long-term care

In 2021, the average cost for assisted living in the U.S. was $54,000 per year. If someone needed nursing care, the average was $94,896 per year for a bed in a room with another patient and $108,408 per year for a private room. The cost of memory care can add an additional 20-30% to the cost. And the life expectancy for someone with Alzheimer’s is 8-12 years.

These rates will wipe out most families’ savings. In the U.S., once families run out of money, state Medicaid programs step in to cover the cost of care—but that’s with taxpayers’ money. Globally, with 55 million people experiencing dementia in 2021, the cost of long-term care to our governments is in the billions already.

Alternative care options for people with dementia & Alzheimer’s

We need a way to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s more cheaply, which means keeping people at home longer. With the DAWN Method, we teach families how to care for someone with dementia at home. It makes dementia care into something any one of us can do for someone we love, with far less stress, because when we meet the emotional needs caused by dementia, behaviors become more manageable.

At DAWN, we see behaviors as symptoms—predictable and healthy responses to losing memory and the rational thought processes. When people have cognitive impairment, they feel afraid because they are unable to make sense of the world around them, and fearful about being unable to care for themselves. They also are frustrated and angry about not being able to do things they could easily do before. Left in fear and anger, they are not easy to live or work with.

Here at DAWN, I teach families how they can recognize the simple pattern of skills not lost to dementia, and capitalize on them, and how to identify the emotional needs that result in dementia-related behaviors. If we meet our loved ones’ emotional needs, they stop being difficult and become pleasant to live with. If we can work and live with dementia, it’s not necessary to put our loved ones into care facilities, which means we can avoid the crushing cost of institutional memory care. It’s that simple.

At DAWN, we want every family to experience less stress, and every family to be able to avoid—or at least put off—the crippling cost of dementia care.


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