In my last post, I shared some figures from the 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures published by the Alzheimer’s Association. This week, I wanted to add some more pertinent information that can help inform those who have the disease as well as caregivers, policymakers and other interested parties. The information below is scary, not only for its impact on the individual and a family, but also the potential drag to the economy of the United States.
- Women make up approximately 60 percent of family and other unpaid caregivers to those with dementia.
- A study found that 87 percent of caregivers of people with dementia were taking care of a relative, especially a parent or parent-in-law (57 percent), a grandparent (11 percent), or a spouse (6 percent). The other 13 percent were caring for a non-relative, such as a friend or relative.
- In one study, 23 percent of caregivers of people with dementia live in the same household as the person for whom they were caring. In another study, 66 percent of people with dementia who were receiving long-term care insurance benefits lived with their caregivers.
- The age of caregivers varied greatly, although the average age was 48. Nineteen percent of caregivers for people with dementia were under age 35 while 29 percent were ages 35-49. Thirty-seven percent were ages 50-64 and 14 percent were age 65 and older.
- Children are not exempt from caregiving. In a 2003 survey, 250,000 U.S. children ages 8-18 were unpaid caregivers for a person with dementia.
- Ten percent of the 9.9 million family and other unpaid caregivers for people with dementia live more than two hours away while 4 percent lived 1-2 hours away. This data indicates that from 990,000 to 1.4 million caregivers could be considered long-distance caregivers.
- Caregiving tasks to support people with dementia can include: grocery shopping, meal preparation, and providing transportation; administering medications and other treatments; managing finances and legal affairs; supervising the person to avoid unsafe activities; bathing, dressing, feeding and helping the person use the bathroom; making arrangements for medical care; and managing behavior symptoms.
- Family and other unpaid caregivers of people with dementia are more likely than caregivers of other older people to provide assistance with personal care such as getting dressed, bathing and dealing with bladder and bowel incontinence.
- When the person with dementia moves to a facility, the types of assistance provided by the family and other unpaid caregivers often changes. Many caregivers continue taking care of financial and legal affairs, make arrangements for medical care, and provide emotional support. Some caregivers still assist with bathing, dressing and other types of personal care.