CHICAGO, Nov. 1, 2023
- November is National Family Caregivers and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
- Alzheimer’s Association offers help to more than 11 million dementia caregivers across the country.
— During National Family Caregivers and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November, the Alzheimer’s Association is highlighting the unique challenges facing Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers and urging caregivers to take care of their own health. Currently, there are more than 11 million family members and friends across the country, providing care to more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Caring for those living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia poses special challenges for family caregivers. As dementia symptoms worsen, caregivers can experience increased emotional stress, depression, anxiety and new or worsened health problems. Caregivers often experience depleted finances due to disruptions in employment and paying for health care or other services.
“Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s takes longer, lasts longer, is more personal and intrusive than most other diseases, and takes a heavy toll on the health of the caregivers themselves,” said Monica Moreno, senior director, care and support, Alzheimer’s Association. “During the course of the disease, caregiving tasks escalate and become more intensive. Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are often managing multiple conditions, including memory loss, comorbidities, loss of mobility, reduced communication skills and behavioral and personality changes.”
Across the country, 59% of dementia caregivers report high to very high emotional stress due to caregiving and 38% report high to very high physical stress due to caregiving. Seventy-four percent of dementia caregivers report they are “somewhat concerned” to “very concerned” about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.
To help caregivers balance competing priorities while maintaining their overall health and well-being, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these tips:
- Find time for yourself. It’s normal to need a break from caregiving duties. No one can do it all by themselves. Consider taking advantage of respite care or help from family and friends to spend time doing something you enjoy.
- Become an educated caregiver. Understand the disease, its progression and accompanying behavioral and physical changes. Know resources in your community that can help.
- Build a support network. Organize friends and family who want to help provide care and support. Access local caregiver support groups or online communities such as ALZConnected to connect with other caregivers. If stress becomes overwhelming, seek professional help.
- Take care of yourself. Try to eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. Making sure that you are healthy can help you be a better caregiver.
- Avoid caregiver burnout. Sustained caregiver stress can lead to caregiver burnout — a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips to help caregivers identify and avoid caregiver burnout.
- Accept changes. Eventually your loved one will need more intensive kinds of care. Research care options now so you are ready for the changes as they occur.
- Know you’re doing your best. It’s normal to lose patience or feel like your care may fall short sometimes. You’re doing the best you can. For support and encouragement, consider joining an online or in-person support group.
“As difficult as it may be, caregivers need to make their health and well-being an equal priority,” Moreno said. “Maintaining your health can help you be a better caregiver. No caregiver should face this disease alone. The Alzheimer’s Association is here to help.”
The Alzheimer’s Association provides local support and programs to families facing this devastating disease, including a 24/7 Helpline staffed by master’s level clinicians and specialists who are available 365 days a year and can help families navigate a variety of disease-related issues. Call 800.272.3900.
During National Family Caregivers Month, join the Alzheimer's Association in honoring and celebrating dementia caregivers. Thank a caregiver in your life at alz.org/honor
Alzheimer’s Caregiving: By the Numbers
- More than 11 million people in the U.S. are providing unpaid care to a person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- In 2022, these caregivers provided an estimated 18 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $339.5 billion.
- 83% of the help provided to older adults in the U.S. comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers.
- Nearly half of all caregivers (48%) who provide help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
- Among primary caregivers of people with dementia, over half take care of their parents.
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, and one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.
- Approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers, meaning they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
- In 2022, the lifetime cost of care for a person living with dementia was $377,621.
- 70% of the lifetime cost of care is borne by family caregivers in the forms of unpaid caregiving and out-of-pocket expenses.
- 41% percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less.
About the Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia®. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.