Difficulties of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients

DAYTON — November is National Family Caregivers Month.

There are more than 11 million family caregivers in the U.S and nearly half of these caregivers provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Here in Ohio, there are 420,000 caregivers who provide countless hours to care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Caregivers for Alzheimer’s and dementia face unique challenges. Here are 5 reasons why Alzheimer’s care-giving is challenging.

Care-giving for someone with memory loss is exceptionally demanding. Alzheimer’s caregivers are often managing multiple conditions, not only memory loss but also long-term physical conditions, including a gradual loss of mobility, emotional issues and behavioral and personality changes

Care-giving tasks are often more intensive and burdensome. Caregivers of people with dementia report providing 27 hours more care per month on average (92 hours versus 65 hours) than caregivers of people without dementia. Among all older adults with dementia, 77% receive assistance with at least one activity of daily living (ADL), such as bathing and dressing, in contrast to only 20% of older adults without dementia.

Alzheimer’s caregivers often have to provide care over a longer period of time. The average life expectancy following a diagnosis is four to eight years but can be as long as 20 and during the course of the disease care-giving tasks escalate and become more intensive

Alzheimer’s caregivers report greater stress and personal health problems. 59% of Alzheimer’s caregivers report their emotional stress as high or very high whereas 41% of non-Alzheimer’s caregivers report high or very high emotional stress. 35% of Alzheimer’s caregivers report declining health because of care-giving. A recent national poll found 27% of caregivers for people with dementia delayed or did not do things they should for their own health.

Alzheimer’s caregivers also report impact on employment. 57% reported sometimes needing to go in late or leave early due to care responsibilities, 18% reduced their work hours and 9% gave up working entirely.

“Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is overwhelming for many caregivers here in Ohio,” said Annemarie Barnett, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley and Greater Cincinnati Chapters. “However, support and resources are available free of charge including local support groups, education programs and our 24/7 Helpline. No one should face this disease alone and the Alzheimer’s Association is here to help.”

Those concerned about themselves or a loved one can contact the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter office at 937-291-3332 to schedule a care consultation with a social worker who can offer connections to local resources that can help.

About the Alzheimer’s Association:

The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Their mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Their vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.