With a newly released report from the Alzheimer’s Association showing that nearly 15 million caregivers are providing 17 billion hours of unpaid care, this will ultimately translate into caregiver stress. The findings indicate “that caregivers not only suffer emotionally but also physically.” Feelings of depression and anger are not unusual among overstressed caregivers and one Boston neurologist advises taking time to “recharge.”
Neurologist offers suggestion
Earlier I had talked with Daniel Z. Press, M.D., a neurologist at the Division of Behavioral Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. He said: “With Alzheimer’s I always tell children or spouses to separate the person from the disease. When they get angry, they should get angry at the disease that is taking away someone they love.
“But to continue giving good care, they need a rest to recharge their batteries. Bringing in qualified outside caregivers can help. But sometimes a group eldercare program is a safer alternative.”
Taking a toll on caregivers
The report notes: “Because of the toll of caregiving on their own health, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $7.9 billion in additional health care costs in 2010. More than 60 percent of family caregivers report high levels of stress because of the prolonged duration of caregiving and 33 percent report symptoms of depression.
Abuse of those with dementia
“Abuse of People with Dementia by Family Carers: Representative Cross-Sectional Survey” was released several years ago by the Department of Mental Health Sciences at University College, in London. The researchers found that two-thirds of 220 surveyed admitted to abusive behavior in the form of screaming at and insulting those under their care. They concluded “that any policy for safeguarding vulnerable adults must consider strategies directed towards families who provide most care for older people, rather than exclusively concentrating on formal carers.”
The Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures report details the growing prevalence and escalating impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia on individuals, caregivers, families, government and the nation. The 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report also contains data on the impact of this disease in every state across the nation.
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