I’d like to make a change from talking just about trusts and estate planning and shift to something more personal, which Old North State Trust has made something of a corporate goal - Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
These are a major health challenge for millions of people, and directly affect the lives of many millions more.
Even though many of us have personal reasons for being dedicated to this cause, it is also an important professional issue for people in my line of work. The fact is, Alzheimer’s and other dementias take a huge financial toll on families and on the national economy. It’s also true that helping families deal responsibly with the impact of these devastating afflictions is an important objective of many trusts.
In November 2017, our company sponsored a team in the Wilmington area Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The goal was to raise awareness of this dreaded disease and to raise funds by walking the 2.6-mile loop at Wrightsville Beach. Our team raised $1,250, contributing to the overall total of $96,500 raised by 683 participants on 92 teams.
These funds, along with more than $75 million raised in more than 600 other communities nationwide, go to help Alzheimer’s patients, fund medical research, and to lobby for greater public commitment to fighting dementia.
The Walk has another purpose beyond money. It’s to help raise awareness.
Here are some important facts that I hope everybody takes to heart.
- Alzheimer’s Disease is the only one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States that can’t be prevented or cured. In fact, the disease’s progression can’t even be slowed.
- It’s so prevalent that fully a third of all seniors have Alzheimer’s or another dementia at the time of death.
- Alzheimer’s is the number-six cause of death in America.
- More than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s right now.
- Those patients require care, usually around the clock, meaning almost 16 million other people are serving as caregivers to people with dementia.
Then there are the financial facts:
- While some of those 16 million caregivers are paid, many others are not. They give an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at $230 billion. Many family members have to give up their careers to care for loved ones with dementia. Thought of another way - how much productivity would be returned to the U.S. economy if those hours could be devoted to other work?
- Alzheimer’s disease’s total impact on the United State economy was $259 billion in 2017, expected to balloon to more than $1 trillion by 2050.
So, while I’m talking about money, it’s worth thinking about what the Alzheimer’s Association does with the funds it raises.
As with every charity, a portion of its income must be used for administration and fundraising. But a full 79 percent of the funds the association raises go toward Alzheimer’s care, support, research, awareness and advocacy.
That includes: offering care and support to patients and their families, through such tools as the online message boards called ALZConnected; local in-person support groups for caregivers and patients; and a free nationwide help line.
On the medical science front, the association has provided more than $405 million to over 2,600 research projects. One result of this work has been development of new diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer's.
Finally, in its advocacy role, the association is a voice for the needs and rights of people affected by Alzheimer's. Its lobbying helped pass important legislation, including the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. This made the fight against Alzheimer’s a national priority. Just as important has been an ongoing push to make sure federal policy reflects the urgency of fighting this growing epidemic, and that government funding follows.
If you are interested in helping, you can learn more, including details about how to give, at alz.org
, or from the association’s help line at 800.272.3900. A related effort, also raising money for scientific insight into the disease, is the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust, or CART, a national project supported by most local Rotary clubs in the greater Wilmington area.
While I’m on this subject, I’d like to say a few words about the importance of thinking ahead about the very likely prospect that you or a loved one may become one of the millions affected by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While not pleasant to think about, the chances are just too great to ignore that many people will become incapacitated mentally as they age.
To help ensure that adequate and appropriate care and living conditions are provided, and that financial assets are protected, a carefully designed trust is invaluable. We have all heard horror stories about people being taken advantage of when their mental faculties have become impaired. A trust arrangement can ensure that objective professionals, who have no claim on the owner’s assets, can oversee the interests and the physical and financial well-being of a person who develops dementia.
A well-designed trust can also take a huge load off family members and other caregivers by ensuring they don’t have to worry about the patient’s finances.
Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends. The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics. Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances. The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely.
Susan Willett is the director of trust services and oversees all aspects of trust administration for Old North State Trust, LLC. Old North State Trust, a North Carolina chartered trust company, provides: asset management services; income, estate and trust tax consulting; retirement planning and administration; and trustee and estate services to both individuals and businesses. Old North State Trust professionals have many years of experience and for over a decade have assisted clients in identifying and reaching their financial goals. For more information, visit www.oldnorthstatetrust.com or call