Emory University: Women Bear Heavier Economic Burden for Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer's Disease is a women's issue. Not only do women become the first primary caregiver, but they also tend to live longer and suffer dementia more than men.

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Emory University: Women Bear Heavier Economic Burden for Alzheimer’s Care
6 Min Read September 11th, 2015 Updated:September 14th, 2021

Alzheimer's Disease is a women's issue. Not only do women become the first primary caregivers, but they also tend to live longer and suffer dementia more than men. Most families are not prepared.

The Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center published the results of a research study that indicated what many people already suspected … Alzheimer's is a women's issue.

The study, published on September 10, 2015, in the journal "Women's Health Issues," finds that women bear six times the cost of Alzheimer's disease care per capita than men do. The authors say the increased cost burden is primarily due to the informal care women deliver to family members with Alzheimer's Disease.

Alzheimer's - Bigger Risk Than Breast Cancer for Women 65+

This is a massive issue for women since they are also at greater risk of developing Alzheimer's themselves. The Alzheimer's Association says a woman's estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer's at age 65 is now one in five. Alzheimer's is as significant a concern as breast cancer for women's health. Women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's during the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.

The Emory study suggests that women, in general, are also the caregivers, at least on an informal basis, impacting them directly as a caregiver or economically as they deal with the costs of extended long-term health care due to the memory loss of a loved one. Unpaid and untrained caregivers are often thrust into the role that places a tremendous physical and emotional burden on both them and their families - Unpaid Family Caregivers Now Total 53 Million People | LTC News.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and is ultimately fatal. It is also one of the most expensive diseases in our country — more costly than heart disease or cancer.

The authors of the research, Zhou Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, and Allan Levey, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology and director of the Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, used a lifetime perspective to calculate AD costs and looked at three factors: the probability of developing the disease, the disease's duration, and the formal and informal care needed for the Alzheimer's Disease patient.

"There is strong evidence that women face higher risks of being affected by Alzheimer's as either patients or informal caregivers."

 Zhou Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health

"It is critical to develop public policy interventions aimed at curing or slowing the progress of the disease to benefit the health and economic welfare of women everywhere," he said.

"This is the first study of its kind to document the disparate economic impact of Alzheimer's on Women as patients and caregivers and the concomitant burden on our public health systems."

 Jill Lesser, President, WomenAgainstAlzheimer's.

The financial impact of the cost of care creates burdens on both families and state and federal government budgets. Although more people are taking advantage of Long-Term Care Insurance and other means of saving for future care well before they retire, many don’t. The result is families are unprepared, and the consequences can be devastating to both families and finances. 

Long-Term Care Insurance premiums are based on age and health and tend to be very affordable if purchased before retirement. However, if people wait too long, the cost could be too high, or their health may prevent them from obtaining coverage - Waiting On Long Term Care Insurance Can Lead to Decline | LTC News.

Ignoring the problem places the burden on the family and, once assets are spent down, on the taxpayer through the Medicaid program, the medical welfare program.

Remember, health insurance, including MEdicare and supplements, will not pay for most long-term health care expenses. Medicaid will only pay for long-term care services if you have little or no income and assets. Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for care, including in-home care, but you must have reasonably good health to obtain coverage. 

“Long-Term Care Insurance requires applicants to meet health qualifications which become more difficult after age 60. In fact, a quarter of applicants between ages 60 and 69 are declined coverage when they apply because of health conditions.”

 Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).

The AALTCI is a national consumer advocacy group that assists consumers and financial professionals in education on this topic.

Slome adds the percentage of declined applications increases to almost 50 percent after age 70. Declining health is why many people will make Long-Term Care Insurance part of their retirement plan before they retire, as health tends to be better, and premiums reflect that as well.

Compare LTC Insurance First as Premiums Vary

Slome advises comparing rates from several insurers, as premiums vary widely. The latest analysis found the difference between the lowest- and highest-cost policies for the same coverage ranged from 34 percent to as much as 119 percent.

Planning is vital for families, but for women, it is critical. Women are of greater need for, are far more likely to use the benefits of a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, says Slome. The Emory University study is another example of why this issue is essential for retirement planning. 

We know the costs of long-term health care are expensive. However, due to increasing demand and higher labor costs, future costs will continue to grow rapidly. The costs do vary depending on where you live in the country.

Long-Term Health Care Costs Vary Depending on Location

The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator shows both the current and future cost of care services where you live. For example, in Wichita, Kansas, three years on in-home long-term health care today averages over $165,000 during that period - Kansas Long-Term Care | LTC News. Add just a year or two in assisted living, memory care, or a nursing home, and you will increase that cost dramatically. But, in twenty-five years, that same level of in-home care is expected to run about $366,000. That is a significant amount of money for just a few years of care.

Compare the Kansas costs to Boston, Massachusetts, for example, and you see all areas of long-term health care are much more expensive - Massachusetts Long-Term Care | LTC News.

Oh, by the way, long-term health care costs in Atlanta, Georgia, home of Emory University, are expensive as well - Georgia Long-Term Care | LTC News.

A qualified and licensed Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will help you design an affordable plan by shopping all the top companies based on your age, health, and family history - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

You can't predict the future, but you can prepare for the decades ahead. Since we all experience changes in health, body, and mind as we get older, being ready helps you, your family, your savings, your lifestyle, and your legacy.  

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will give you the tools necessary so you can enjoy your choice of quality care, including in-home, when you need the care. The guaranteed tax-free benefits will safeguard income, assets, lifestyle, and legacy. 

Don't delay; the best time to obtain coverage is when you are in your 40s or 50s.

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You can compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.

The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area. There are also available tax incentives. See if these tax incentives are helpful - Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

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There are many people today that have much of their savings invested in their home. With today's reverse mortgages, you can use the money in your home to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, add retirement income, or even pay for in-home care if you need care now. 

Learn more now - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News. You can also help find caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not.

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