By CYD RIEDE
For The Vista
This is the third of a series of articles on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s disease takes a devastating toll not just on those with the disease – but also on their caregivers.
Caregiving refers to attending to another individual’s health needs. Caregiving often includes assistance with one or more activities of daily living (ADLs; such as bathing and dressing).
In addition to assisting with ADLs, almost two-thirds of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias advocate for their care recipient with government agencies and service providers (64 percent), and nearly half arrange and supervise paid caregivers from community agencies (46 percent).
Eighty percent of care provided in the community is provided by unpaid caregivers (most often family members), while fewer than 10 percent of older adults receive all of their care from paid caregivers.
In 2012, 15.4 million family and friends provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – care valued at $216.4 billion. This number represents an average of 21.9 hours of care per caregiver per week, or 1,139 hours of care per caregiver per year.
The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) found that 30 percent of caregivers had children under 18 years old living with them; such caregivers are sometimes called “sandwich caregivers” because they simultaneously provide care for two generations. Nearly 15 percent of caregivers are long-distance caregivers, living an hour or more away from their loved ones. Out-of-pocket caregiving costs are nearly twice as high for long-distance caregivers compared with local caregivers.
Impact on Caregiving
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s and other dementias poses special challenges. For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease experience losses in judgment, orientation and the ability to understand and communicate effectively.
Family caregivers must often help people with Alzheimer’s manage these issues. The personality and behavior of a person with Alzheimer’s are affected as well, and these changes are often among the most challenging for family caregivers.
Individuals with dementia may also require increasing levels of supervision and personal care as the disease progresses.
As these symptoms worsen with the progression of a relative’s dementia, the care required of family members can result in family caregivers’ experiencing increased emotional stress, depression, impaired immune system response, health impairments, lost wages due to disruptions in employment, and depleted income and finances.
More than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; and more than one-third report personal health problems as a result of their caregiving efforts.
Due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $9.1 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2012.
Raising Awareness and Supporting Alzheimer’s in Cumberland County
On Saturday, September 7, 2013, Alzheimer’s of Tennessee will hold the 2nd Annual Plateau Alzheimer’s Walk.
You can participate as an individual or a team/group. Note that all funds raised for this event directly support Alzheimer’s here in Cumberland County.
For more information view www.alztnevents.org or call Cyd Riede at 456-2122.
Look for additional articles on Alzheimer’s Disease to include: “Education & Support Organizations”, “Treatment , Now and Future”.