Friday, August 29, 2008

2008 Report from the Alzheimer's Association - Caregivers

The Alzheimer’s Association, a national non-profit organization, devoted to the elimination of Alzheimer’s disease and the care and comfort of its sufferers and their caregivers, has released a comprehensive survey. The results of which are amazing. If you want to see the whole study, go to their website: However, over the next few posts, I want to present you with some of the more interesting findings, especially focusing on what they learned about caregivers.
First off let’s start with some basic statistics. There are almost 10 million caregivers in the United States. The term caregiver, as we use it here refers to family members, friends and neighbors that provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. On average, these 10 million caregivers give nearly 8½ billion hours of unpaid care per year, with an approximate value of 89 billion dollars. I am always curious how they come up with these numbers. Well in this case, they tell us. The work you do as a caregiver is estimated to be worth $10.58 per hour. (Well at least it’s not minimum wage). But how does that compare to the paid caregiver? The average wage of a home health care aide is $15.32 per hour.
But let’s break that down to. Are you running the average? If, last year, you provided 16.6 hours per week of care for your loved one you’re in there. But I bet you beat that. One study found that almost 1 in 4 caregiver’s provided more than 40 per week. Perhaps that better describes you.
The study goes on to state the obvious. At least it’s obvious to caregivers…As the Alzheimer’s sufferer worsens the caregiving hours go up. So that caregivers find themselves providing help and supervision 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. As caregivers you are profoundly aware of such around-the-clock care because your parent or spouse cannot be left alone for even a few moments. Often you are getting up with the person worrying about them wandering or other unsafe behaviors.
Caregiving, by the way, is much more than helping with “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs). ADLs, if you don’t know, are helping with bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, etc. But as you DO know, caregiving doesn’t stop there. Caregivers wear many hats. They make arrangements for medical care, the manage finances and legal affairs and they do shopping for groceries, provide transportation, help a person take medications correctly.
The study confirms what we knew that most caregivers are women. About 60% are wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters and other female relatives, friends and neighbors. The largest percentage is ages 50-64, at 37%. The next largest group is ages 35-49 at 29%. Interestingly, about a quarter million children ages 8-18 are in the caregiving role, and as caregivers they too assist with bathing, dressing, feeding or helping the person to the toilet. I doubt they are sole caregivers; that would be ridiculous. But mostly they live in homes with adult caregivers and help provide care for the afflicted person.
Long-distance caregivers make up about 10% of unpaid family caregivers …but there’s more to say about that and other fascinating statistics in the next installment of this blog (which I am trying desperately to put up new posts on a weekly basis). So if you don’t want to miss them, simply look to the right hand side of the screen and look a place to “subscribe” to this blog. You can do that safely, as will not sell or give your email address to anyone, nor will they bug you either. You will simply get all future blog posts in your mailbox when they come out. Try it. If later you want to opt out, it’s just as easy.

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