Even if a parent doesn't get Alzheimer's, tending to their needs can still cost thousands of dollars a month. It's a scary and emotional time, but help is available. You just need to know where to look.
When Susan Nakagiri's mom died six years ago, she noticed her dad Bob was showing signs of dementia. She and her brother cared for him, but the wanderings, hallucinations and mood swings became more than they could handle.
"Earlier this year, his condition just got to the point where we just couldn't do that anymore," said Nakagiri.
The facility they wanted cost $8,000 to $10,000 a month. Susan was surprised to learn Medicare doesn't help. Financial planners offered little hope.
Finally, they met with elder-care attorney Susan Geffen.
"Her father did not have long-term care insurance, which would have helped, which I recommend everybody getting," said Geffen. "The problem is that although her father qualified for Medi-Cal, that really only gets you into a nursing home."
"There's just no mystery about nursing homes. They're not great places," said Geffen.
So Geffen told Nakagiri about other options, such as senior board and care: Household settings with no more than six patients.
"It was like a home, so we figured the transition wouldn't be as hard on him," said Nakagiri.
And at $3,000 to $5,000 per month, it was half the cost of other facilities they looked into. Still, the cost was steep. So Geffen helped the Nakagiris uncover even more financial help.
Because Bob Nakagiri is a U.S. military veteran, he has access to Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits of up to $2,000 a month.
"He could use that money for in-home care, for care in an assisted-living facility, for care at a wonderful board and care where he's at right now," said Geffen.
After years of worry, Susan Nakagiri felt like a huge load was lifted. She and her brother can now take a breather.
"And watch their father's life unfold in a very safe, loving, warm environment that they can afford," said Geffen. "It's a happy ending."
Geffen says getting long-term care insurance is less expensive when you're younger.
Her advice: Check to see if it's available at work and ask a long-term care professional to look at what's being offered to you.