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What Is Dementia & Why It Will Affect Long Term Disability Care

rising trend of dementia in Singapore and financial planning options.

Last Updated on by Tree of Wealth

Navigating the Landscape of Dementia’s Financial Implications

 

Dementia in Singapore Snapshot:

  • About 10% of Singaporeans over 60 have dementia, expected to rise to over 100,000 individuals by 2030.
  • Dementia isn’t a single disease, but a collection of symptoms affecting cognitive abilities due to various brain diseases.
  • Caregivers face significant challenges, from emotional and physical strain to financial burdens, necessitating adequate support.
  • It’s essential to prioritize early intervention, planning, and creating a supportive environment for dementia patients.
  • Insurance plans, like the CareShield Life supplementary plan, provide financial coverage, ensuring long-term care for those affected by dementia.

Did you know that about 10% of Singaporeans over 60 are diagnosed with dementia? Even more alarming, half of those above 85 years are affected. Projections indicate that by 2030, over 100,000 individuals in Singapore could be grappling with this condition.

The unpredictability of dementia, like many other illnesses, underlines the importance of being financially prepared. The monetary strain this disease brings to the table can’t be understated.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking skills, and the ability to perform everyday activities, also known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). As dementia progresses, it impacts various aspects of an individual’s functionality.

Dementia is not a specific disease in itself.

Instead, it describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. It is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

To put it simply, dementia refers to a series of symptoms that lead to a decline in cognitive abilities, such as memory and reasoning, due to brain-related diseases. As the condition progresses, many affected individuals find themselves unable to continue their profession. In more severe stages, even basic tasks like dressing or eating become challenging. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the ensuing financial challenges, from hiring caregivers to addressing medical needs and contending with lost wages.

Several factors lead to dementia. However, the most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes can include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal disorders.

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At its core, dementia involves damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When cells in a particular region are affected, that region cannot carry out its functions normally.

Early symptoms might include forgetfulness, losing track of time, and becoming lost in familiar places. As dementia progresses, symptoms become more severe, leading to difficulties in communication, impaired judgment, disorientation, behavior changes, and difficulty speaking and swallowing.

It’s worth noting that dementia is not a natural part of aging, and while it predominantly affects older individuals, it can also be seen in younger people — a condition known as early-onset dementia.

There’s no definitive cure for dementia currently, but there are treatments that can slow its progression and improve quality of life for those affected and their caregivers.

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Common Age Group For Dementia

Most commonly, dementia affects those beyond the age of 60. However, Young Onset Dementia (YOD) can make its appearance post the age of 30. Thus, it’s beneficial for individuals to begin evaluating their dementia insurance coverage options early in their careers.

Nearly 50% of dementia diagnoses in Singapore are attributed to Vascular Dementia.

On the bright side, there are proactive measures you can adopt to mitigate the risk. Key strategies include maintaining an active lifestyle, adopting a nutritious diet, stimulating your mind, fostering social connections, and being proactive about your overall health.

A statistic showing the dementia cases in Singapore
Source: https://dementia.org.sg/

Challenges of Caregiving for Dementia Patients

Being a caregiver to dementia patients often feels like an exhaustive full-time commitment. Indeed, if a person decides to shoulder the complete caregiving responsibility, it might mean having to quit their job.

However, relief is available through options like the Singlife Careshield Plus. This insurance plan does more than just provide a lump sum payment upon a dementia diagnosis. It also delivers a monthly payout, as well as caregivers payout benefits, who quit their full-time roles to attend to the insured.

For caregivers with substantial earnings, it’s wise to assess alternative solutions that allow them to continue working, either full-time or part-time, ensuring the family’s financial stability.

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Several alternatives to personal caregiving exist, such as nursing homes, day care centres, Assisted Living Facilities, or hiring home-based caregivers, either part-time or full-time.

Beyond the evident financial implications, caregivers face numerous challenges:

  • Hiring Concerns: Employing a foreign domestic worker (FDW) often presents issues. These workers may not have the expertise required to manage dementia patients. Furthermore, female FDWs might struggle with tasks for male patients, especially if they’re heavier. Activities like bathing can become sources of discomfort for both.
  • Emotional and Physical Strain: Continuous care can exact a heavy emotional and physical toll, disrupting both professional and personal lives.
  • Support Shortages: At times, the weight of caregiving rests solely on a single family member, possibly someone single or cohabiting with the dementia patient. They might find it tough to garner assistance from other family members or evenly distribute the tasks and financial burdens. They may also struggle to find help from organizations specializing in dementia.

Witnessing a loved one’s decline is gut-wrenching. Being a perpetual caregiver, functioning round the clock, without any reprieve, can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, some institutions aim to assist caregivers. The Agency of Integrated Care (AIC), for instance, offers a wealth of resources. Their website houses a detailed guide tailored for dementia caregivers, information channels for emotional aid and counselling, and an extensive list of caregiving alternatives for dementia patients.

Prioritizing Self-Care For Every Caregiver

Navigating the caregiver role is no walk in the park. When personal needs take a backseat, caregivers often grapple with a cascade of issues, from unyielding stress to burnout, erratic sleep cycles, emotional upheavals, and a shorter temper. Overlooking self-care doesn’t just take a toll on one’s well-being, but can also impair one’s caregiving capacities.

Thus, it’s essential for caregivers to earmark moments for themselves. This includes setting aside time for relaxation, embracing self-care routines, prioritizing their health, and immersing in activities they love. Keeping the social fabric intact is also critical. A well-cared-for caregiver is better positioned to handle hurdles, make sound decisions, and extend consistent, quality care to their loved ones.

Here’s Why It Will Affect Long Term Disability

Here’s how dementia can lead to an inability to perform ADLs:

  1. Mobility and Transferring: Dementia may lead to challenges with motor coordination and balance. Over time, individuals might struggle to move from one position to another, such as from a bed to a standing position or from a chair to a standing position.
  2. Dressing: Cognitive decline can make it challenging to remember the sequence of dressing or how to manage fastenings, like buttons or zippers.
  3. Feeding: Dementia can cause difficulty in recognizing when one is hungry, forgetting how to chew or swallow, or even how to use utensils. This can make feeding oneself challenging.
  4. Personal Hygiene: Tasks like brushing teeth, bathing, and grooming can become overwhelming. There might be a fear of water, forgetfulness about the need to maintain hygiene, or difficulty in using toiletry items.
  5. Toileting: An individual may forget where the bathroom is or how to use the toilet. There might also be incontinence issues due to a lack of recognition of bodily signals.
  6. Continence Management: As dementia advances, an individual may lose control over bladder and bowel functions and may not remember or recognize the need to go to the bathroom.

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Besides these basic ADLs, dementia can also impact Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), which are more complex skills needed for independent living:

  1. Managing Medications: Forgetting to take medications, taking incorrect doses, or not recognizing medicines are common challenges.
  2. Cooking and Meal Preparation: Dementia patients may forget how to cook, leave stoves on, or not eat balanced meals.
  3. Managing Finances: Forgetfulness can lead to unpaid bills, overspending, or being susceptible to financial scams.
  4. Using the Telephone or Other Communication Devices: An individual might forget how to use a phone or not recognize familiar numbers.
  5. Housekeeping and Home Maintenance: There may be neglect in cleaning, laundry, or keeping up with repairs.
  6. Shopping: Forgetting what to buy, purchasing unnecessary items repetitively, or getting lost in stores can occur.
  7. Transportation: Individuals might forget how to drive, get lost easily, or not remember the way back home.

As dementia progresses, the decline in cognitive and physical abilities becomes more pronounced, leading to increased dependency. Early recognition and intervention, as well as a supportive environment, can help manage some of these challenges. However, as the disease progresses, professional care and assistance often become essential for the well-being of the individual.

While dementia presents a series of challenges that can affect everyday tasks, it’s crucial to remember that early intervention and a supportive environment can make a significant difference. The journey with dementia can be navigated more smoothly with the right resources, understanding, and planning.

There’s a world of assistance out there, and with the correct guidance, individuals and families can find hope and strength even amidst the challenges.

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Long Term Disability Solutions

To safeguard against the possibility of inadequate long-term care coverage, think about opting for insurance like the CareShield Life supplementary plan. This not only boosts your CareShield Life coverage but also provides a payout when you’re unable to perform 1 or 2 of the 6 ADLs. This is a notable improvement over CareShield Life’s stricter requirement of 3 ADLs. Depending on your chosen plan, premiums, and the extent of the disability, you can secure payouts of up to $5,000 monthly.

Additionally, a Critical Illness (CI) plan is valuable as it offers a lump sum payout upon a dementia diagnosis. Such funds can be instrumental in covering medical bills, caregiving expenses, and compensating for lost income. However, when exploring CI policies, it’s essential to remember that payouts can vary based on the dementia progression, as determined by different insurance providers.

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