We recently learned that Tony Bennett, 94, singer, artist and American icon, has been battling Alzheimer’s disease since being diagnosed in 2016. Like many families today, the Bennett family chose to keep it a secret at first because of the stigma surrounding the disease due to, at least in part, a lack of awareness and understanding.
Alzheimer’s disease International report more than 75 percent of people with dementia and nearly 70 percent of in-home dementia caregivers say that others perceive people diagnosed with dementia negatively. It is likely worse for celebrities. Many people just don’t know how to behave around someone with dementia and this can be scary for the senior diagnosed, his or her family, and close friends.
At present, Bennett can remember many but not all of the lyrics to his songs. His wife, Susan, says, ”He’s not the old Tony anymore. However, when he sings, he’s the old Tony.” Bennett has a calendar of 2021 tour dates lined up.
There is No Way to Prevent, Cure or Slow It Down
The signs are subtle at first as the disease creeps up. Glen Campbell, 81, singer, guitarist and country music legend battled Alzheimer’s after his diagnosis in 2011. His family was forthright about raising awareness of the disease by producing a documentary, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me,” except Campbell’s frequent and angry outbursts became fodder for the tabloids and TV news magazines.
On stage, he forgot the lyrics but not how to play his guitar, sometimes firing off flawless, five-minute guitar solos. Campbell died in 2017 in a Nashville memory-care facility.
Not unlike what so many American families experience with their loved ones, Alzheimer’s symptoms may initially include angry outbursts, repeating questions, getting lost in a familiar place or misplacing things, and may eventually progress to hallucinations, and the inability to recognize family and friends or communicate at all.
Forgetfulness May Not be a Sign of Alzheimer’s
Aren’t we all forgetful at times? Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later on is normal aging. Losing track of the date or time of year, however, is an Alzheimer’s symptom. What causes it, according to the National Institute on Aging, are certain medical conditions, drinking too much alcohol, thyroid, liver or kidney disorders, not eating enough healthy foods, too few vitamins and minerals, and medication side effects as a handful of reasons.
A degenerative brain disease caused by complex brain changes following cell damage, Alzheimer’s leads to dementia symptoms that gradually worsen over time. One of the most common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s is trouble remembering new information. That is mainly because the disease impacts the part of the brain associated with learning first.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is not considered a disease or a normal part of aging. The Alzheimer’s Association says dementia describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning or thinking skills.
Planning For an Unplanned Occurrence
This disease doesn’t care who or what you are and, luckily, not everyone will get it. While most Alzheimer’s patients are 65 and older, you might be surprised to learn there are approximately 200,000 Americans under 65 that have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
As the disease advances, symptoms get more severe and include disorientation, confusion and behavior changes. Speaking, swallowing and walking become difficult. Family members typically help out, but a more advanced level of care, such as long-term care, is needed as their needs exceed what the person’s family can reasonably provide. Pre-planning for long-term care and its expenses are critical steps you can take early on.
Consult with a Hefren-Tillotson financial advisor regarding which private insurance and government resources may help cover some expenses. It is not uncommon for individuals and their families to pay out of pocket for some services, such as respite care, home health and nursing home care. Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care but it does cover care planning with a medical professional. Having insurance is an even better way.
Long-Term Care Insurance Coverage
Long-term care insurance was designed to pay for nursing home, assisted living and home care services as people age, become ill, or need assistance with specified activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing and more. Long-term care is a family issue, and long-term care insurance protects the family. As we are living longer, each of us risks a life-changing medical event that can take a huge personal toll on our families and our finances.
Today’s policies also provides single and childless men and women the security of knowing they’ll have someone to take care of them when they can no longer care for themselves.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners advises consumers to look for policies that include at least one year of nursing home or home health care coverage, including intermediate and custodial care; coverage for Alzheimer’s disease; inflation protection; a guarantee that the policy cannot be terminated because of deteriorating health or age; no requirement that the beneficiary has to first be hospitalized to receive benefits and a 30-day cancellation period after purchase.
Your Hefren-Tillotson advisor is well versed in long-term care insurance and its benefits. We would be glad to help determine what is right for you or a family member. Contact us today for more information.