If you are diagnosed with Alzheimer's during your retirement, the cost per year for your care beyond what Medicare covers is likely to be well over $100,000 -- even if you rely on family and friends during the early stages of the disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association, which is holding its annual conference in Paris this week.
These are retirement planning costs none of us can accurately budget for and few can afford to pay.
Ways to slow and prevent the disease is key among the topics under discussion at the conference, with a lot of focus on findings that suggest that there are a seven simple things people can do to reduce by 25 percent the likelihood that they will suffer from Alzheimer's.
Here are the risk factors, the percentage of cases that are likely attributable to each cause, and preventive steps:
- Physical inactivity: 21 percent. Exercise daily.
- Depression: 15 percent. Get therapy to keep this ailment under control.
- Smoking: 11 percent. If you haven't quit yet, do it today.
- Midlife hypertension: 8 percent. Diet and exercise can control high blood pressure.
- Midlife obesity: 7 percent. Exercise more and eat less.
- Low education: 7 percent. "What's good for your heart is also good for your head," the association says.
- Diabetes: 3 percent. Follow the doctor's orders.
"Estimated worldwide costs of dementia are (U.S.) $604 billion -- $183 billion in the U.S. alone," says William Thies, Ph.D., chief medical and scientific officer for Alzheimer's Association. "Dementia is significantly affecting every health and social care system in the world, and costs of dementia are set to soar."
Do what you can to save yourself.