January is Financial Wellness Month and what better way to start 2022 than with a great plan that can set you up for the new year and beyond. The Alzheimer’s Association Orange County Chapter has been supporting families facing dementia across Orange County for over 35 years and this month is providing important financial wellness tips for seniors to help overcome the stress and fear this topic can evoke.

Where to begin

Start with a financial and legal document worksheet to assist you in organizing needed documents and inventory of all assets and debts you are responsible for. Identify family members that should be included in the process and can help you complete routine financial responsibilities like paying bills, arranging benefit claims, and managing bank accounts. It’s important to understand the costs of care you may incur now and in the future. Certain government and veteran benefits, as well as long term care insurance policies, may provide assistance with future care costs, prescriptions, transportation and meals.

Care costs

To plan for your financial needs, you’ll need to consider all the costs you might face now and in the future. For example, if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, the type and level of care needed will intensify over time due to the nature of it being a progressive disease. Common care costs may include ongoing medical treatment for symptoms, diagnosis and follow-up visits; safety-related expenses, such as home safety modifications or safety services; adult day services or in-home and full-time care services; and prescription drugs and personal care supplies.

Resources to pay for care

A number of financial resources may be available to help cover care costs including Medicare, Medicare Part D and Medigap; insurance, including life and long-term care; employee or retirement benefits; personal assets such as savings, investments and property; veterans benefits and Medicaid; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); and community support services, such as Meals on Wheels, respite care and transportation services.

Professional assistance

You can get help from a financial planner and or an estate planning attorney to help you identify potential financial resources and outline a plan to make your financial resources last. Make sure to ask the financial advisor if he or she is familiar with elder care or long-term care planning. If you need help locating a financial advisor, the following resources are available:

Jody Mills, Community Engagement Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Orange County Chapter, stresses the importance of putting a plan together as soon as possible.

“Beginning the arduous journey of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s without having any legal or financial plans in place is a lot like heading off on a road trip without a map or clear destination,” says Mills.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, the Orange County Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association offers free classes that include tips on legal and financial planning when facing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Visit alz.org/oc or call 800.272.3900.

Chris Soden is the communications manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Orange County Chapter.

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