Dementia is an umbrella term for various brain disorders that cause memory and problem-solving difficulties, with Alzheimer’s disease being one of its causes (affecting up to 80%). Dementia is progressive; over time it worsens; many who live with dementia require long-term care, including assistance with daily tasks and medication management; Medicare may help cover some costs related to dementia care but not all costs are covered by it.
Medicare covers home health care for dementia patients in its early stages, when a physician detects symptoms or signs and orders cognitive assessment. Home health services provided through Medicare may include nursing, physical therapy and speech therapy services as necessary – it’s crucial that these professionals communicate directly with a patient’s physician so they can tailor care accordingly.
As part of their treatment for dementia, doctors may advise staying in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Medicare Part A covers up to 20 days in an SNF; after this point you must pay coinsurance which typically amounts to 20%. Home health can also provide assistance at this stage of the process to ease transition between an SNF and homecare services.
Hospice care may be recommended in the late stages of dementia for terminally ill individuals with chronic illness such as dementia. Medicare typically covers most of the costs of hospice, which typically combines palliative care, pain management and counseling services into one comprehensive package.
Medicare does not cover long-term care; however, PACE (Program to Assist in Community Eligibility for Long Term Care) offers an alternative. By combining Medicare and Medicaid funds together to pay for assisted living and memory care services. PACE can be an attractive solution for those needing dementia care who do not wish to move into nursing home settings.
Many options for long-term care exist for those searching for assistance, including senior living communities and adult day care that can ease the strain of caregiving. Some states even provide programs to offset nursing home care costs not covered by Medicare; many families of dementia patients choose Medigap plans which cover any extra healthcare costs not covered by Original Medicare such as deductibles, coinsurance premiums or additional doctor visits.