Mind­ing Alzheimer’ s

Fi­nan­cial prepa­ra­tion for the dis­ease is cr ucial

Weekend Witness - - Money -

SEPTEM­BER is W orld Alzheimer’ s a ware­ness month.

Dr Peter Bond, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer at Old Mu­tual, pro­vides some in­sight on how to pre­pare for the most common form of de­men­tia, Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

The dra­matic in­crease in the in­ci­denc e of the dis­ease and a re­cent find­ing that a quar­ter of South Africans will suf­fer from a men­tal health con­di­tion in their lifetime should spur bread­win­ners to pre­pare fi­nan­cially for the c ost of the c on­di­tion, he said.

The South African Fed­er­a­tion for Men­tal Health said 75% of peo­ple with men­tal health dis­or­ders are un­treated, while the or­gan­i­sa­tion Alzheimer’s in Ac­tion es­ti­mates SA has 750 000 peo­ple with Alzheimer’s — a num­ber that will dou­ble by 2030.

The fig­ures place a r espon­si­bil­ity on fi­nan­cial ser­vice providers to clearly ex­plain the e xtent of the cover their var­i­ous prod­ucts pro­vide, he said.

Con­sumers need to in­form them­selves and seek out sound ad vice.

“Be­ing a ware and pr epar­ing f or Alzheimer’ s should form part of every­body’s fi­nan­cial life­style plan­ning,” said Dr B ond in a s tate­ment.

“Ad­vances in tr eat­ment mean that peo­ple li ve longer with the dis­ease than pre­vi­ously. While this is good ne ws, it ma y also incr ease the fi­nan­cial bur­den on fam­i­lies who have to cover the cost of treat­ment as well as part or full­time car­ers should they be needed, ” he said.

In its ad­vanced stages, the suf­ferer’s men­tal state of­ten places great strain on loved ones, who may then opt t o ad­mit them f or full­time car e. That can c ost man y thou­sands of r ands a month.

Dr Bond said not only the pa­tient, but also the care­giver and spouse needed t o be support ed.

“There is noth­ing that can pre­pare you for this dis­ease. Not only is your loved one no longer the per­son they were, but friends may also dis­ap­pear. The care­giver feels trapped with the p atient and misses the c om­pan­ion­ship …”

Dr B ond said mos t peo­ple w ho de velop Alzheimer’s do so when they’re re­tired and many are fi­nan­cially un­der­pre­pared f or r etire­ment.

The most re­cent up­date of the Old Mu­tual Sav­ings and In­vest­ment Mon­i­tor found more than a third of work­ing South Africans have no pro­vi­sion for their r etire­ment at all.

A per­son with so­called dread dis­eases such as strokes, heart at tacks or canc er is paid out upon di­ag­no­sis, but with de­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s this p ay­out is made w hen a c er­tain level of dis­abil­ity is reached, such as no longer be­ing able t o dri ve.

When ini­tiall y di­ag­nosed with a de gen­er­a­tive dis­ease, the p atient may s till ha ve a f airly g ood qual­ity of lif e f or a long time.

The se­vere ill­ness ben­e­fit kicks in at a later stage, when fam­i­lies are tak­ing phys­i­cal and emo­tional strain and need the help of a carer or a spe­cialised home — a c ost that is un­lik ely to be c overed by a med­i­cal aid. — BE.

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