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Caring for dementia

Posted Oct 04 2009 11:12pm
Bristol News

In my practice, I see many families who are caring for a loved one who has dementia. This column will explore the basic phases of dementia, the stresses that caregivers go through, and how to lower these stresses. First here are some dementia facts:

People over the age of 85 years of age are the fastest growing segment of our population.

More than 54 million people provided care to a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend in the last year;

4.5 million people are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder in the U.S.A.

The average course of the disease is eight years, but can range from four to 20 years.

Dementia has three stages: early, middle and end stages. In the early stages the patient will experience forgetfulness, become socially awkward and can become lost in familiar settings. During this stage, however, the patient experiences confusion and disorientation, could have speech problems, and will most likely need assistance with their activities of daily living. In the end stages, the patient becomes completely dependent on others.

In most cases, patients live at home and their family members care for them. Usually there is only one caregiver involved. Many times, the caregiver is a spouse or a child. In addition, most caregivers are over the age of 50.

Being a caregiver is extremely stressful. It is so stressful, in fact that the healthy spouse dies before the spouse with dementia more than half of the time. The caregiver frequently experiences depressions, anxiety, anger and poor health (from the stress and self-neglect).

There are also severe financial effects on the caregiver. Many become concerned with having enough funds to pay for their own age-related needs and use substantial resources to provide care. According to the long-term care insurance industry, policy holders with dementia average 18 to 24 months of care at home before they enter a nursing home. Caregivers miss an average of 17 work days per year because of care-giving duties. About a third of caregivers reduced their work hours or report being..... read the whole post

For a great resource for those with dementia, caregivers and healthcare professinals, click here

For information on being the best caregiver you can be, click here

For more interesting dementia articles and activities, click here
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