Retirement Planning Should Consider Alzheimer's

By Powell, Robert | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 5, 2010 | Go to article overview

Retirement Planning Should Consider Alzheimer's


Powell, Robert, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


BOSTON -- When it comes to retirement, there are lots of things to consider: tax rates, earthquakes, and drug interactions to name a few. But experts say there are two big elephants in the room with which many of us will have to deal, sooner or later.

One is trying to make up for lost time on the savings front by assuming you can work later in life. The other is a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, either for oneself or a close family member.

Let's tackle the tougher one first.

Some 5.3 million people now have Alzheimer's, according to a recent report issued by the Alzheimer's Association. That's roughly the population of Colorado. The disease is the seventh leading cause of death. There are some 10 million unpaid caregivers.

What's worse still, there's no end in sight: The prevalence of Alzheimer's is expected to grow by more than 80 percent from 2000 to 2025 in at least nine states, including Colorado. By 2050, some 19 million Americans will have Alzheimer's.

You don't have go far in your family tree or on your Facebook page to realize that you're just one degree of separation away from this disease.

So how should you tackle or at least think about this elephant in the room?

"Alzheimer's disease is the largest thief of retirement," said Chris Cooper, president of Chris Cooper & Company Inc. and ElderCare Advocates, Inc. "It is a slowly progressing disease, leaving the person oftentimes with good physical health and less mental faculties to use this good physical health."

Americans are often diagnosed with Alzheimer's in their late 60s and 70s, but it can and does occur earlier. And, Cooper said, many Americans fail to plan for the disease.

Because there's a long three-to-20-year life span from diagnosis to death with Alzheimer's disease, Cooper said retirement planning can be difficult. …

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