The financial toll on families facing Alzheimer's - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

The financial toll on families facing Alzheimer's

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and fatal neurological disease. It's also an incredible burden on emotional, physical and financial resources for families affected.

Getting a handle on money issues as soon as possible can ease some of the stress that goes with living with Alzheimer's.

For Curt Smith, his wife's Alzheimer's diagnosis was a gut punch.

"Well the first thing's were... Kind of denial... Is this really something that's happening?"

Carol's keys would disappear, she lost her wedding ring, early warning signs on a long difficult road.

"You just think you have your hands around this thing and something else pops up. And it's very hard not to get angry," he said.

But Curt isn't the victim type, and had planned and saved for retirement so money wasn't a huge problem. He also knew to turn to the Alzheimer's Association for a little guidance.

"We started attending classes and sessions with Alzheimer's for caregivers, as well as my spouse... We started looking at, okay, where are we going to be five years from now?"

Curt also reached out for expert advice on finances, insurance and legal issues.

Teofla Rich is vice president of private banking at Torrey Pines, a partner with CBS 8 and the Alzheimer's Association for the Alzheimer's 8 awareness campaign.

Rich has personal experience with the disease and urges family members to communicate clearly about the challenges it poses.

"Be able to help loved ones make some decisions... Involve them in some decisions... That ultimately will impact them as they continue to decline in mental capacity."

Rich says some good immediate steps to take to protect a loved one with Alzheimer's:

-Know all bank and credit accounts they have access to

-Look into prepaid credit cards

-Make sure all bills are being paid on time

"I often try to encourage clients to actually get online banking so that they can perhaps monitor their loved ones accounts and insure that there isn't unusual activity," Rich said.

And with Alzheimer's related care costs soaring, it's increasingly urgent to make a plan sooner rather than later.

Money issues addressed, Curt can focus full attention on the love of his life on this long difficult journey with Alzheimer's.

"If the rolls were reversed I'd be getting much better support than I give her," Curt said.

The costs related to Alzheimer's care are truly skyrocketing. It's very important to take action quickly and it's highly recommended you take action and sit down with a financial planner. You also should look into speaking with an attorney and an insurance professional.

And Saturday at 8 a.m. please join News 8's Carlo Cechetto and many other's at Balboa Park for the Walk to End Alzheimer's. For more information on that and living with Alzheimer's contact the Alzheimer's Association.

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