November is National Alzheimer's Disease & Family Caregivers Month

Celebrating Alzheimer's Awareness and Family Caregivers Month
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November is the month where we highlight two very important subjects: Alzheimer's disease and family caregiving.

Why Shine the Spotlight on Alzheimer's Disease?

Approximately 5.2 millions Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and all Americans are affected by it, either directly or indirectly. This includes those who have been diagnosed with it, who are experiencing symptoms but haven't yet been diagnosed, those who know and love someone with Alzheimer's disease, and everyone else due to the incredible amount of money our country spends on care and research related to the disease.

Alzheimer's disease (and related dementias) is the only one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States that we don't have a way to effectively cure or treat.

(There are a few medications that have been approved by the Food & Drug Administration to treat it, but they are quite limited in their effectiveness.)

Need more reasons? One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.

Additionally, "Alzheimer's is the most expensive condition in our country," according to the Alzheimer's Association's annual report on 2014 Facts and Figures. How much does it cost? Annually, it's estimated to cost $214 billion, including direct and indirect costs.

Why Shine the Spotlight on Family Caregivers?

According to the just-released RAND study, people in the United States spend 30 billion hours providing care for family members. These caregivers average about 20 hours a week and their work is valued at $522 billion a year.

Family caregivers are often juggling multiple roles, including that of partner, parent, adult child, and caregiver. Sixty percent are also in the workforce. They're managing their own health along side that of another person. Without family caregivers, we would have millions of people unable to function and without care.

Our already strapped financial and healthcare systems would further deteriorate. And, our loved ones would not have the benefit of being cared for by their family members.

What Good Does "Increasing Awareness" Do?

Ever wonder, "What's the point?" Here's why increasing awareness can help.

When people are informed about something, they begin to pay attention. They listen a little more intently when budgets are being discussed, they may realize some of the challenges their neighbor faces as he cares for his wife with Alzheimer's disease, and they might be more willing to financially support organizations that assist caregivers or others that conduct research on Alzheimer's disease.

How Can YOU Help?

  • Say something. When you have the opportunity, share your experience or thoughts.
  • Share an article about Alzheimer's or caregivers on social media.
  • Volunteer at a local organization.
  • Coordinate support for a friend or neighbor who has dementia or is a caregiver.
  • Visit someone with Alzheimer's disease.

More Resources

Sources:

Alzheimer's Association. 2014 Facts and Figures. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp

Alzheimer's Association.Accessed October 31, 2014. Boomer Report. http://www.alz.org/boomers/

American Cancer Society. March 31, 2014. Economic Impact of Cancer. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/economic-impact-of-cancer

American Society on Aging. October 27, 2011. November is National Family Caregiver Month. http://www.asaging.org/blog/november-national-family-caregiver-month

Health Services Research. 7 OCT 2014. The Opportunity Costs of Informal Elder-Care in the United States: New Estimates from the American Time Use Survey. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1475-6773.12238/abstract

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