Eighty percent of dementia victims mismanage their finances at least partially, family caregivers say in a new survey by RBC Wealth Management.
The mismanagement has ranged from unpaid bills to unusual spending to unopened statements to repeated calls to advisors over the same concern.
RBC warns the mistakes can lead to fraud, identify theft, or financial abuse.
It recommends caregivers make a plan for transitioning financial and legal capacity and put it into motion swiftly after a family member is diagnosed with dementia.
The firm calls dementia the most expensive disease in America with the lifetime costs often exceeding $750,000.
That burden is shared by 83 percent of caregivers.
Family caregivers who took time off from the workplace report losing an average of $38,000 in income annually while those who took early retirement to perform the responsibilities asserted it cost them $35,000 in lost wages yearly.
In highlighting the high personal burdens, RBC is urging caregivers to find out which expenses are covered by insurance and to balance what they pick up financially versus what should be paid out of their loved one’s estate.
Emphasizing the toll on family finances, the authors of the report say the average price of a nursing home stay of five years for an individual with Alzheimer’s exceeds $450,000 compared to the $200,000 average outlay for undergraduate tuition, fees and room and board at a private college needed to earn a four-year degree.
Saving is harder for families for long-term cognitive decline care than for their kids’ college education because of the larger sum needed but most people don’t want to think about or talk about dementia said RBC Advice and Solutions head Ann Senne.
Close to 11.6 million adults are expected to be living with Alzheimer’s. dementia and other memory disorders by 2040, double the number today.
The survey is based on an online poll of 1,000 current and former mass affluent and high net-worth caregivers between November and December 2019.
Nearly nine out of 10 of the caregivers say they are handling or handled financial tasks for their infirm relative including keeping track of bills and expenses; paying bills from the family member’s accounts; providing financial support for the family member by paying expenses from the caregiver’s personal accounts; managing the dementia victim’s wealth and investments; and other financial care.
To see the full 16-page survey, click on: