6Caregiver Shortage for Alzheimer’s Patients On The Rise
Alzheimer’s is a fatal brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and subsequently behavior. It has no cure, but only a few effective treatments. Alzheimer’s disease sets in on people in their elderly years all over the world. The disease is overwhelming and desolating for the patient and those who care for them.
Sadly, people affected with Alzheimer’s is at an all-time high and rising, at a time when there is an acute shortage of qualified caregivers. And thus, the onus of providing care for the patient falls completely on the family members. This responsibility can be a tad overwhelming and would take time for a family to get used to.
Current Trends with Regards to Alzheimer’s
About 5.3 million people above the age of 65 are suffering from Alzheimer’s in the United States. By the year 2050, this number is expected to reach a staggering 16 million. The progression of the disease varies from person to person. However, all patients deal with memory loss and the inability to care for themselves.
A study undertaken in 2016 showed that more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid family care for people with various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. The time these care providers spent taking care of their loved ones is estimated to be 18.2 billion hours and valued at over $230 billion.
Alzheimer’s Effects on Families
With the stark shortage of caregivers, more family members are taking care of Alzheimer’s patients in addition to taking care of their job, children and family life. Although this can make you feel good that you are able to provide love and support, it can quickly become difficult to manage.
Later as the disease progresses, taking care can get overwhelming when the patient is not in a state to be left alone. Approximately a quarter of Alzheimer’s caregivers belong to the ‘sandwich generation’. They have to care for a child and an aged parent, in addition to working a full-time job.
Alzheimer’s is a complicated disease and is known to take a toll on the caregivers. As you watch your loved one’s memory diminish over time, it is easy to neglect your own health. You will need to stay committed to the needs of an Alzheimer’s patient early on. Add to keep things under control during the course of the disease, requires careful planning, scheduling, and coordination. The caregivers express emotional, physical and financial difficulties while caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. Caregiver stress is a real thing, and you should not feel guilty about it. However, you must learn to deal with it.
The only solution to this problem is to hire a qualified and professional caregiver. The problem with this solution is that there is a shortage of qualified caregivers in the United States. Seeking professional help and support must not be a luxury, it is a necessity.
People who become caregivers don’t necessarily become so out of choice. And there’s no formal training one has to go through to become a family caregiver, unlike a nurse. When a loved one is suffering or can’t care for themselves, you are forced to become a caregiver.
Anyone caring for their elderly parents, who are going through Alzheimer’s or any other critical disease related to old age can be termed as a “caregiver”. This can be a part time or full-time job depending on the severity of the health situation and if there is anyone to share the responsibility.
Here are some tips that can help you deal better with caring for an Alzheimer’s patient:
- Ask for help from friends and family.
- Learn how to manage your stress.
- Join a support group that to learn about others challenges and how they faced it.
- Learn more about the disease and also on how to manage it.