Alzheimer's financial toll on caregivers

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-30 18:33:41-04

It started 30 years ago when Bertha Bullen found out her mother in law had Alzheimer's.

"It's not a pretty picture," said Bullen. "There's no cure, no treatment, and you know no prevention really for alzheimer's disease. You've got to deal with it and it gets worse every day."

And then her mother too was diagnosed with the disease.

"It's never easy to lose a loved one to any disease," explained Bullen. "But I think with alzheimer's, it can go on for up to 20 years before death comes. I think the cost emotionally is very great."

Between her and her husband Jim, they've lost seven family members. But it's not just the emotional cost. The cost of caring for those with alzheimer's or other dementias is estimated to total 236 billion dollars in 2016.

"What our family care givers are having to come up with are far exceeding what is paid for under those insurances," said Cammi Robinson with the Alzheimer's Association.

On average, family caregivers spend more than 5,000 dollars to care for someone living with alzheimer's.

"What we can do for people is once they've received a diagnosis, we can sit down with them and try to identify what some of these challenges are going to be," said Robinson. "Try to connect them with those resources."

Like tax benefits or programs to pay for medication or daily assistance.

"Physical therapy and occupational therapy to even respite care," explained Robinson. "That's a big deal to have some place to go during the day so that our caregivers can take a break."

Caregivers that are sacrificing more than their time to care for their family members.

"It can be devastating to the individual caregiver in that often they put aside their own needs in order to care for their loved one," said Bullen.

But in the end, "I'd go back there in a minute if I could have my mother back."