The Fight To End Alzheimers

By Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®

We have come so far, yet we still have miles to go. I am talking about the fight to end Alzheimer’s. It’s what most of us don’t want to think about, to talk about, and certainly don’t want to face. I am pleased that we are seeing more and more about Alzheimer’s dementia in the news, in the world, and in the books we read.

As an avid reader and book club member, I recently hosted my book club to discuss The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian. I was surprised that the book went over so well. Most everyone was emotionally impacted:

“A sort of Easy Rider meets The Notebook, Michael Zadoorian’s poignant, funny, vibrant, and unforgettable novel, The Leisure Seeker, is a story of two seniors who escape from their retirement home and embark upon a hilarious and touching end-of-life road trip.”

Coming Soon: The book has recently been made into a moving starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. I can’t wait to see it. I made the recommendation because I thought it would be a great way to start a discussion with a group of women that I care about.

Thankfully, not everyone is going to get Alzheimer’s or Dementia. However, the statistics are staggering. We may have come a long way in bringing awareness, but we are not prepared for the financial impact of this awful disease, personally or as a society.

The Reality*:

  • One in eight baby boomers will get Alzheimer’s dementia after they turn 65.
  • More women are impacted than men because women tend to live longer.
  • The average cost for a private room in a nursing home is $253 per day.
  • The median cost for a paid non-medical home health aide is $20 per hour.
  • There is widespread misunderstanding regarding what Medicare and Medicaid cover.
  • The cost of caregiving, both fiscally & physically, is greatly underestimated.
  • For most families, the financial resources are often strained after caring for the first spouse to become ill or pass away.
  • Widowed women can no longer rely on the caregiving of a spouse and are dependent on community care or non-paid family caregivers.


This message is personal for me as my mother is living with Alzheimer’s dementia and has been for over 10 years. I’m grateful that she is mostly at peace. It’s the oldest memories that remain. Mom still recalls her love of Jesus Christ and we share moments of joy when we recite together her favorite prayers from childhood.

Another favorite book about Alzheimer’s dementia is Still Alice, a novel by Lisa Genova. One reviewer wrote, “After you read this you will never look at Alzheimer’s the same again. Nor will you ever forget it. Oh the irony.”

Some more simple facts*:

  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia
  • In 2017 Alzheimer’s will cost the nation $259 billion dollars
  • By 2050 it is estimated that more than 16 million people will be living with Alzheimer’s dementia

So, let’s make a plan to talk about financial strategies that can help cover unforeseen long-term care expenses.

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