Monday, August 29, 2011

non pharma treatments for Alzheimer's/Dementia

There is a lovely letter here, to President Obama, about non-pharmaceutical treatments for Alzheimer's and dementia.
It reads, in part, "Drugs can't give people with dementia a life worth living. Non-pharmacological interventions can!" and includes a link to a petition to sign.
Hey, I think everything and everything possible should be thrown at Alzheimer's, including voodoo and the kitchen sink.  Sacrifice a chicken, then fry it up and eat it--it was gonna die anyway, right?  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Think first?! (reaction to a negative comment)

(begin rant)
I've been writing this blog for a LONG time, and I know I often talk about things that might make people feel uncomfortable--that's the road I've chosen to travel.   I have other blogs, on other subjects, and I often get negative comments on those.  But on this blog, NEVER have I had anyone say anything bad...until now.
(I'm not talking about spam--I'm talking about rude.)
I recently did a post about what Alzheimer's cost my family in terms of Social Security income.
This is what someone commented:   
"Some people don't think about their retirement thoroughly. And they take important steps before thinking about it twice or asking an expert."
WHAT?!  My dad retired because he had ALZHEIMER'S.  Did you miss that, jerk?  And my mom retired to be a CARETAKER for my dad, who had ALZHEIMER'S.   
There is nothing to "think about thoroughly" when you are sick with a fatal illness, or your spouse is. 
And if you are implying they should have had investments, I didn't even get into that in the other post.  But I will now.  My mom had a nice 401(k) and some other savings.  But there is a thing called a SPEND DOWN where the government makes you spend ALL your money before you or your spouse can go on Medicare.  So the retirement she did plan for instead went to $10k a MONTH on a nursing home until she ran out of money.  How do you plan for that, huh?  You got an extra $120K a year just lying around waiting to be spent on nursing care?  Good for you, I hope you live a LONG TIME and suck up all that money and someone comes along and tells you that you should have planned better and died quicker.
(end rant)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Birthday

This week would have been my dad's 71st birthday.  I like to think of him hosting a pint of beer up there in the Elsewhere Bar, buying a round for the newcomers, those who just came in confused and lost.
Happy Birthday, Dad!  Wish you were here--as yourself, not the shell you were at the end.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

a Hidden Cost of Alzheimer's: almost a $million per family

Here is a cost of Alzheimer's I've never heard discussed:  loss of Social Security income.
I'm going to completely make up figures here.
My dad retired, literally, the earliest he could, meaning he got the minimum SS income.  Let's say he got $1000 a month, but if he had stayed until he was 65, he would have gotten $2000 a month.  And assume he lived a normal lifespan to 80 years.  So from age 65 to 80 (15 years) he made $24,000 a year ($360,000).  Then when he died at age 80, my mom would then get that money for the rest of her life--she's from a long-lived clan, so let's say she made it to 95 (her mom's still kicking at 93 and her grandma made it to 99).  That's 20 years (she's 5 years younger than my dad) at $24,000 or $480,000 in SS income.  Not counting what she made for her own SS income from age 65 to 75.
Let's say my mom would have retired at the maximum of 65 and gotten $1800 a month.  That's $216,000 for those 10 years, until my dad died.  So total retirement income for my parents=$576,000 from age 65 to death.  Half a million, not bad.
But that didn't happen.  My dad retired early, to the minimum amount (which I invented as $1000 a month).  So not only did he lose his job's income of several times that amount from age 62 to age 65, but he then lost $1000 every month to early retirement (due to Alzheimer's.)  Let's say he made $3000 a month at his job.  So $108,000 in real income from selling cars, evaporated.   From age 65 on, $12,000 a year of SS, not coming in.
Then we get to my mom.  She also had to retire early (age 60), to take care of my dad.  So instead of the $1800 a month she should have gotten, she only got $900.  Let's say she made $2000/month at her job.  She lost 5 years of that real income ($120,000).   Then my dad died at age 67 and my mom started to get his SS, $1000 a month rather than the $2000 he would have gotten if he just retired 2 years earlier.
Let's summarize the math.
Mom's early retirement, lost income through not working
$120,000 (5 years x 12 months x $2000/month)
Dad's early retirement, lost income through not working
$216,000 (3 years x 12 months x $3000/month)
Loss of maximum SS for my dad, ages 65-67
$48,000 (2 years x 12 months x $2000/month)
Loss of maximum SS for my mom, age 65-95
$360,000 (30 years x 12 months x$1000/month)
total: $744,000.
So if my mom lives to be 95, she will have lost three quarters of a million dollars in income because my dad had early-onset Alzheimer's.
I invented these figures, but they aren't very inaccurate. I would say that for an average family with one person developing Early Onset Alzheimer's, this is probably close to reality.
Has no one else thought of this?  It's really depressing.  And it makes me really angry.  My parents could have had an enjoyable retirement with almost a million dollars.  Now my mom struggles by on the absolutely minimum through no fault of her own--and because I don't work, I can't help her out financially.
(image source)