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Alzheimer’s is a Family Matter – Female Caregivers Most Affected by Home Care

Sixty-four

Sixty-four percent of the people in the study admit they did not plan to provide care, and almost half of all caregivers use their own income to pay for caregiving expenses.   

Fifty-one

Fifty-one percent of caregivers reported that they wished that their loved one had had been diagnosed at an earlier stage to benefit from appropriate interventions and to participate in making decisions about medical options.   

Caring for a family member or loved one with Alzheimer’s disease takes its toll on every aspect of a female caregiver’s life. In a new Working Mother Research Institute study, 49 percent of women caregivers said they feel overwhelmed and 39 percent of them feel depressed.

Alzheimer’s disease comes as a shock for most families. Sixty-four percent of the people in the study admit they did not plan to provide care, and almost half of all caregivers use their own income to pay for caregiving expenses. This unexpected change is a blow for women that find out that someone they love has been diagnosed with the disease.

According to the survey findings, 80 percent of care is provided from home. This trend is on the rise, as more patients are remaining at the caregiver’s house to ensure around the clock care; caregivers and patients prefer to be in familiar spaces rather than to go to professional nursing facilities.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be costly on a personal level. Although 77 percent of people have said they feel capable of taking care of their loved one, many of them have made sacrifices in other areas of their lives to be able to support the patient. Forty-eight percent of caregivers say that they find it difficult to manage the demands of their work life and personal life although more than half of them have a job; 39 percent of them have passed up a more demanding job or promotion.

“The findings are dramatic,” Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media says. “Caretakers are providing hundreds of hours of assistance every month whilst juggling careers, marriages and kids. The bottom line is that too many women find themselves caught in a role they did not anticipate, sustained only at great personal cost and with no clear end date. The caregiver’s entire life is affected and weighs heavily on her family and job, not to mention her own health.”
 

How can you help caregivers?

Because there is no way of knowing how long Alzheimer’s disease patients will need care, it’s hard for caregivers to be able to make changes in their new and complicated lifestyles. The majority of caregivers have some kind of support; family and friends can take over and give them a break for a while and some of them can even rely on a week’s rest. This is not the case for all women, as some are mothers, caregivers and workers and are juggling different situations, finding it hard to cope. 

When asked, 81 percent of caregivers said that employers could provide help by being flexible about taking time off of work, giving more resources or information to be able to provide care, as well as the ability to change their work schedule.

Resources are also important assets for caregivers; 66 percent of women in the study said that they find relatives and friends helpful as a support for care and many of them feel comfortable talking to their friends about their loved one’s care. Being informed is paramount: 72 percent of caregivers value information on how to care for the person and 61 percent would like to have contact with other caregivers to share information.

It’s not just the Alzheimer’s patient that is vulnerable; whoever cares for them is too. Many caregivers have not talked to their doctors about aging and the possibility of the disease; in fact, only 13 percent of caregivers have talked to their doctor about Alzheimer’s although 60 percent of caregivers have done research on it and some believe they might also have the disease.
 

The importance of early diagnosis

Fifty-one percent of caregivers reported that they wished that their loved one had had been diagnosed at an earlier stage to benefit from appropriate interventions and to participate in making decisions about medical options.

Because caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease have had to make all the arrangements for another person, including long-term care insurance and end-of-life care options, so they know how hard the process can be. Additionally, 84 percent of survey participants stated that they would like to be diagnosed early if they develop the disease; one of the top reasons was to spare their families the responsibility of making financial and medical decisions on their behalf, as well as being able to participate in decision-making about medical options for treatment and care.

Doctors can be an extremely valuable asset in this process, providing assistance during care and informing caregivers about the disease, especially because family history is important in predicting Alzheimer’s disease.

Complete findings of the Working Mother Research Institute Report: Women and Alzheimer’s Disease – The Caregiver Crisis is available at http://www.wmmsurveys.com/ALZ_report.pdf