There are currently 10 million Americans providing 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, according to an estimate from the Alzheimer's Association.
Seventy percent of people with Alzheimer's live at home, cared for by family and friends.
As Bill Couturié explains:
"Not only is it very expensive to pay for care in a nursing home, but the patient is someone you love a lot - a mother, father, spouse. Someone who has taken care of you, and so it's only natural to want to take care of them."
Alzheimer's can take a great toll on the physical and emotional well-being not just of the patient, but of the caregiver as well.
"It's not uncommon for the caregiver to die before the patient. It's a 24/7 job and often the caregiver has no help. But it's a long haul, you can't live like that and survive. Caregivers must be able to find some respite," says Couturié.
Caregivers is a collection of five portraits, each of which highlights the sacrifices and successes made by people experiencing their loved one's gradual descent into dementia.
"Successful caregivers don't do this out of a sense of obligation," notes Couturié. "They truly love their father or wife and get a sense of joy from giving to the person. They also learn to live in the present...a butterfly, a cloud in the sky -- these folks learn to appreciate that."
Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,050 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.
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