By Melissa Westphal
Rockford Register Star

Clark Galloway can be a bit of a ham when company shows up to The Atrium.

He smiled, raised his arms and shook his hands as if to say “ta-da” when his wife of nearly 52 years, Kay, and son, Guy, visited two weeks ago.

The 76-year-old former stockbroker nodded his head as Kay talked about how they met, and he even corrected her when she talked about his military experience.

But Clark doesn’t say much. A stroke two years ago and another stroke-like incident last year left him with trouble walking, and his wife and son worked as his caregivers for more than a year.

Those roles grew increasingly difficult as his Alzheimer’s disease progressed, and Kay and Guy became like thousands of other family members left to navigate what to do next. Families who can afford to are turning more to facilities that offer specific memory care and dementia programs, boosting demand. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates a person develops the disease every 68 seconds.

“I had no knowledge of this facility before this,” Guy said. “When Mom and I were looking, we really didn’t know where to go.”

The cost of care

The conversation about moving a loved one to a nursing home or memory care facility doesn’t usually include if, but when.

One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Illinois Chapter. Alzheimer’s is also the only cause of death in the U.S. top 10 without any measures tied to preventing, curing or slowing its progression.

The time to make that move differs for each family, said Richard Apple, a licensed clinical social worker and senior manager of care navigation with the Alzheimer’s Association office in Rockford.. The timing depends on the support system available to the family and on their finances.

In-home and long-term care aren’t typically covered by insurance unless the family has purchased long-term care insurance. In-home care can run $100,000 a year, and facilities can range from $4,000 to $8,000 a month. Some federal financial assistance does exist for people who can meet income guidelines and for veterans.

“It’s one of those things that unless we figure out a better way to do this, it’s going to start really creating some financial difficulties,” Apple said. “Most people when they make first contact really have no idea. They’ve had insurance all of their life. Most people think it’s covered by insurance, and it’s a matter of educating them that this is how things work.

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