According to research by the Alzheimer’s Association, family and friends provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care — care valued at $216.4 billion.
The report also touched on the toll that caregiving can take on the caregiver. Over 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers said that the emotional stress of caregiving was high or very high.
As baby boomers continue to age, these numbers will only go up. Mainstream media is broadening the scope of their coverage on Alzheimer’s beyond just the disease. In fact, The New York Times just published a blog post about caring for the Alzheimer’s caregiver.
There are many ways family caregivers can take care of themselves so that they can continue providing care for their loved ones. One of the keys is to have a plan of care in place as the disease progresses. It’s vital to have input from family physicians and make them a part of the care plan.
Part of the care plan should also include respite for the caregiver. It’s been proven that as little as four hours of respite from caregiving a week can greatly extend the time a caregiver can continue providing care in the home.
The care plan can also include in-home memory care where professional caregivers trained in caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients come into the home to help with everything from chores and transportation to meal preparation and medication management.
Finally, it’s essential for caregivers to address their own needs. If you are a caregiver then you know the stress that often accompanies your job. Take steps to reduce your stress. One of the best ways to do that is to find humor in your situation or just laugh or smile. If you need a little help in that department check out our Caregiver Smile Factory.
If you need help developing a care plan for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia or are in need of respite from caregiving, give us a call at 615-298-9201.