Alzheimer’s disease caregivers are faced with a multitude of responsibilities when caring for a loved one suffering from the disease. The impact Alzheimer’s disease has on the caregivers can lead to a variety of emotions, from guilt to anger, as well as have an effect on their own physical and financial well-being.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2014 Facts and Figures Report, in 2013 unpaid caregivers in the United States provided around 17.7 billion hours of care for their loved ones. Most of this unpaid care, around 85% of it, is provided by family members.
The majority of the unpaid caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients is done by women. Women account for 63% of the caregivers, especially in cases where the patient is a spouse and requires around-the-clock care. In a poll done by the Alzheimer’s Association, results showed that 16% of caregivers were caring for a spouse, and a wife caring for a husband was twice as common as a husband caring for a wife with dementia.
While all family caregivers for aging loved ones provide assistance with various activities, whether it be providing transportation or helping with household duties, Alzheimer’s disease caregivers tend to go above and beyond these types of tasks. It’s common for an Alzheimer’s disease caregiver to provide assistance with activities of daily living, like helping their loved one get in and of bed, get dressed, as well as bathing and feeding. Not only that, but these caregivers also provide care for a longer duration.
Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving
Due to all the responsibilities an Alzheimer’s disease caregiver has, it’s not unusual for the caregiver to feel extreme emotional stress or depression. Their own health also tends to suffer in the long run due to the physical impact of caregiving, which can also lead to financial problems.
Emotionally, caregivers most often feel guilt or remorse when they finally have to make the decision to admit their loved one to a memory care assisted living facility. They may also feel guilty for being angry or short-tempered with their loved one, or for feeling burdened with the caregiving duties in the first place. This is where feelings of anger also come in to play; sometimes Alzheimer’s caregivers are feel like they are the only one helping their loved one, and that others should be helping out or supporting them.
Physically, caregivers tend to have issues with their health due to the time commitment the caregiving entails. Dementia caregivers feel like they are on the clock 24-7 and often deal with disturbances in their sleep, resulting in a weakened immune system.
Financially, once a person becomes a full-time caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, they’ll experience work-related changes that can ultimately affect their pay. Many caregivers have had to take time off work to deal with their loved one, take a leave of absence or even had to give up their job entirely.
If you are a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s disease, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members. Respite care is also available to get you the rest you need. Recognize that you are in a stressful situation, and that you are providing the best quality of life for your loved one that you can.
For more information about memory care at American Senior Communities, please visit www.asccare.com/ac.