During National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month in November, the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter is raising awareness about the important role of Alzheimer’s caregivers and how they can be supported.
Today, there are more than 16 million family members and friends across the U.S. serving as Alzheimer’s caregivers. In North Carolina, there are an estimated 466,000 caregivers providing unpaid care to family members and friends living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In 2017, these caregivers in North Carolina provided 531 million hours of unpaid care, valued at over $6.7 billion.
The care provided to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is wide-ranging and, in some instances, all-encompassing. Caregivers for people with dementia tend to provide more time-intensive and extensive assistance and experience more difficulty than caregivers of individuals without dementia.
Eighty-three percent of the help provided to older adults in the United States comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers.
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, with over half providing more than 21 hours of care per week.
“Our research shows a growing financial, physical and emotional toll on Alzheimer’s caregivers, which is why the Alzheimer’s Association aims to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” said Katherine L. Lambert, CEO of the Western Carolina Chapter. “During this month and throughout the year, we encourage caregivers to reduce stress and be healthy, and for people to support caregivers and to let them know they are not alone on this journey.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers the following ways that people can help caregivers and tips on being a healthy caregiver. For more information, visithttp://www.alz.org/honor.
Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease – its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association has a vast amount of resources and information available at www.alz.org.
Build a Team: The Alzheimer’s Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool to organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. Visit the Care Team Calendar here: https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/care-options/care-team-calendar.
Give a Break: Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge.
Join the Fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by joining the fight against Alzheimer’s. You can volunteer at your local Alzheimer’s Association office, participate in fundraising events such as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day, advocate for more research funding, or sign up to participate in a clinical study as a healthy volunteer through the Alzheimer’s Association’s Trial Match.
See Your Doctor: Visit your physician regularly and listen to what your body is telling you. Any exhaustion, stress, sleeplessness, or changes in appetite or behavior should be taken seriously.
Get Moving: In addition to helping you stay healthy, exercise can help relieve stress, prevent disease and make you feel good.
Eat Well: Heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, are good for overall health and may help protect the brain.
Additional Facts and Figures: (http://www.alz.org/facts/)
One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
An estimated 5.7 million Americans, including 170,000 North Carolina residents, are living with Alzheimer’s, a number estimated to grow to as many as 16 million by year 2050.
Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.