In 1983, President Ronald Reagan, who was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. President Bill Clinton named the week of Thanksgiving as a time to honor caregivers in 1997, and that has expanded to National Family Caregivers Month. As an organization founded by caregivers, the Alzheimer’s Association applauds caregivers and hopes to make their efforts a little easier year round with an innovative resources that have been designed specifically with families in mind.
“More than 15 million Americans, including 289,000 people in Maryland, are providing unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” said Cindy Schelhorn, Senior Director, Communications and Marketing for the Alzheimer’s Association National Capital Area Chapter. “These caregivers face a devastating toll, both mentally and financially. Nearly sixty percent rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, and more than one-third report symptoms of depression. The reach of this disease extends beyond their personal lives and into the workplace, with seventy-five percent of caregivers reporting they were employed while fulfilling care responsibilities. It is important for caregivers to become educated about the disease and to have a support network to take care of their own well-being.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, family members and friends of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care last year, a contribution to the nation valued at $217.7 billion. This is approximately 46 percent of the net value of Walmart sales in 2013 and nearly eight times the total revenue of McDonald’s in 2013.
The report also indicates that:
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women
- Thirty-four percent are age 65 or older
- Forty-one percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less.
- Over half of primary caregivers of people with dementia take care of parents.
- An estimated 250,000 children and young adults between ages 8 and 18 provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers free resources both online and locally to guide families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, including:
- Alzheimer’s Association Helpline (1.800.272.3900): This toll-free 24/7 Helpline is the one of its kind; the Helpline is staffed by masters-level counselors and provides information and guidance in more than 170 languages and dialects.
The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center (alz.org/care): This site provides more than 70 pages of information and easy access to resources, such as:
- Community Resource Finder: Find local resources.
- Care Team Calendar: Coordinate caregiving responsibilities among family and friends.
- Safety Center: Access information and resources for safety inside and outside of the home, wandering and getting lost, and dementia and driving.
- Support groups: Peer- or professionally led groups for caregivers and others dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. All support groups are facilitated by trained individuals.
- Education programs: the Alzheimer’s Association National Capital Area Chapter provides free caregiver training classes and workshops throughout the region. Visit alz.org/nca for a calendar of upcoming programs.
- ALZConnected™, powered by the Alzheimer’s Association (alzconnected.org): This is the first social networking community designed for people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease or available resources, visit alz.org or call 1.800.272.3900.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 1.800.272.3900.