In 2017, the Alzheimer’s Association completed an extensive survey on the effects of Alzheimer’s on the family caregiver. Years since, their continued studies of Alzheimer’s and dementia have found that the effects of these diseases on the family caregiver are more paramount than ever.
In fact, their ongoing research of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia continues to prove an unsustainable physical, financial and emotional stress on caregivers.
Dementia affects the caregiver and their family. Caring for a loved one with progressive memory loss can impact normal family life in a variety of challenging ways. Caregivers report a greater number of physical and emotional health problems and worse overall wellness compared with non-caregivers. Levels of psychological distress are significantly higher in dementia caregivers than in other types of caregiving. And, caregivers tend to sacrifice their own leisure pursuits and hobbies, reduce time with friends and family and give up or reduce employment in order to devote time to their loved one.
Dementia affects the family finances. The Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report indicates that people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s or dementia survive an average of 4 to 10 years after diagnosis, with some living as long as 20 years. Families typically step in as the caregiver, especially early in the diagnosis. This can impact the family caregiver, especially if the care was unplanned. In many cases, the family member helps pay for the out-of-pocket costs associated with dementia care, which means they often cut back on their own spending to do so. And some also reduce their work hours or even quit their paying jobs to become a full-time family caregiver.
Personality changes can take a toll. Personality changes in a loved one with dementia are often the most difficult part of the disease for family caregivers to manage. Sometimes a person affected by dementia may become aggressive because they don’t know how else to express themselves. Others may experience anxiety, agitation or irritability. Confusion also appears when trying to complete the daily tasks most of us take for granted. Unfortunately, these personality changes can also take a toll on the family caregiver and, in some cases, negatively impact their health.
Many family caregivers who care for loved ones living with Alzheimers and dementia handle the care on their own. But hiring a caregiver to assist with the day-to-day can offer much-needed respite and peace of mind to the family caregiver and help the person affected by the disease to live the rest of their lives with purpose.
If you are a dementia caregiver, don’t go it alone. FirstLight Home Care and our Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care services can help you and your loved one with individualized dementia care plans for daily care. Contact FirstLight Home Care today.
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For other similar reading, check out these posts:
5 Helpful Tips for Dementia Caregivers
Family Finances: Coping with the Costs of Dementia