Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers

| Tuesday, May 24, 2011
By Janine Sanderstine

There has been a 37 percent increase in the number of caregivers for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's in the US in order to meet the current need.

The total is now $15,000,000 unpaid caregivers according to the new Alzheimer's Association report in 2011.. Seventeen billion hours of unpaid care valued greater than $200,000,000,000 was provided in 2010. Family caregivers provided eighty percent of care at home.

Sixty percent of the caregivers are women. "Most caregivers are aged 55 or older (56 percent), are married (66 percent), have obtained less than a college degree (67 percent) and are white (70 percent)," the report notes. Nearly half are employed full or part time and over half are the primary breadwinners in the household. About half of these unpaid caregivers live with the person suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. More than one quarter of the caregivers are also caring for children under the age of eighteen in the household. There are, however, differences in the profile of caregivers in ethnic communities. On average, African-American caregivers are older than those in other caregiver groups.. Additionally, they are more likely to be or never married. The African-American care givers are more likely than white caregivers and Asian-American caregivers to assist with three or more activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, feeding and using the restroom.

Hispanic caregivers, accounting for 12 percent of all care givers have an average age of 43 years old. White and African-American caregivers are generally not as young as Hispanic caregivers. Less Hispanic caregivers are married. They are more likely than all other care giving groups to have children or grandchildren under the age of 18 living in the household. More than the other ethnic groups of caregivers, Hispanic caregivers also indicated that they needed help balancing their work and family responsibilities and finding time for themselves. Fifty-nine percent of African-American caregivers and 56 percent of Hispanic caregivers reported an annual household income below $50,000. Tasks commonly performed by caregivers include: 1) Basic activities of daily living such as preparing meals, dispensing medications and shopping 2) Managing money and legal matters 3) Activities of daily living, like bathing and dressing, grooming, feeding, and using the bathroom 4) Managing safety issues and behavioral symptoms, such as assisting with mobility needs and supervising the person to stay away from unsafe activities 5) Driving and providing assistance for doctor appointments, dental appointments and other needed services 5) Locating and deciding on using supportive services, such as paid in-home, physical therapy, assisted living or nursing home care 6) Supervising others who help with care, whether paid or family members 7) Performing household chores

Needless to say, care giving also puts tremendous stress on the person who is providing the care. It also puts stress on the family, friends, bosses, coworkers and eventually the community. Everyone involved needs to realize what is involved in providing care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. It is amazing how quickly the number of Americans from all walks of life in care giving roles is increasing. Dealing with the stress of being a caregiver is challenging. Many caregivers are reluctant to ask for help. Caregivers can sometimes forget their own needs when they are caring for others.

Experts agree that one of the best things that caregivers can do is to put themselves first. Taking care of themselves is often the best gift they can give a loved one and helps to keep their lives balanced. Stress management for caregivers and taking personal time to maintain physical and emotional health is essential. Deep breathing, regular sleep and daily exercise are some quick methods of stress reduction. Reserving some time each day for an activity that makes them feel good is important.

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Alex Smith said...

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Unknown said...

Thanks for the info. These will really help everyone who read this understand that AD makes it difficult for seniors to convey the whatever physical changes or discomfort they feel. People around older adults, especially those with Alzheimer's disease, should be more sensitive to the changes and needs of these seniors.

Alzheimer specialist

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