News and EventsWednesday, November 16, 2016
National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month - Focusing on the caregivers
The numbers don’t lie.
Today, approximately 5.4 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, a figure that is expected to triple by the middle of the century. In Greater Cincinnati alone, there are an estimated 55,000 individuals affected by Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only one of the disease-related in the top 10 without an effective treatment or cure.
And that doesn’t even take into account the tens of millions of caregivers who struggle daily with the various physical and emotional challenges associated with caring for a loved one with dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease affects men and women equally and knows no social or economic boundaries. It is a neurodegenerative, progressive disorder that affects memory, as well as a person’s cognitive, functional and motor skills. To date, there is no cure or prevention, although in the past 25 years great strides have been made in the understanding of the pathogenesis and molecular mechanisms of this confounding and devastating disorder.
Alzheimer’s disease costs American society approximately $220 billion annually - taking into account everything from lost employee productivity to increased healthcare costs. As our “baby boomer” population ages, these costs will continue to grow at an alarming rate.
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. During November, the Alzheimer’s Association is focusing its attention on an important intersection between these two events – the unique challenges facing Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers.
It is estimated that more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia can take a severe emotional, physical and financial toll on the individual providing it. Consider the following:
It’s important for caregivers, and family and friends closest to them, recognize these common signs of caregiver stress:
An important key to good caregiving is a healthy caregiver. Managing caregiver stress is essential and benefits both the caregiver and the person under their care. To help manage caregiver stress, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these suggestions:
When President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed National Alzheimer’s Disease Month in November of 1983, the Alzheimer’s Association was just three years old. At the time, there were no treatments available to those affected by the disease and caregivers had few, if any, sources of support and information.
Much has changed over the past 30 years, with significant advances in research and the development of informational and supportive service centers. Still, we are far from a cure and our current health care system cannot adequately deal with the impending epidemic.
As 2016 marks the 33rd anniversary of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in the United States, the Alzheimer’s Association works to meet the increasing demand for services as a growing number of people are touched by this degenerative and ultimately fatal brain disease.
For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association or to access our services, please call our 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/cincinnati.
Elise Sebastian, MSW, LSW, Director of Clinical Outreach, Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati