New data interpretations from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System proves the need for more Alzheimer’s advocates has never been greater, especially when considering the impact of the disease on caregivers. In this article, we have detailed the most profound findings in our hope to gain new Alzheimer’s advocates or renew a sense of urgency for our current advocates.
More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and 458,000 of those caregivers live in Virginia.
Caregiving is defined as activities performed that attend to another person’s health needs. It often includes assisting with activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing, or toileting, as well as independent activities of daily living, such as driving, paying bills, or grocery shopping.
Caregiving for a loved one has an incredible economic impact in the United States. Unpaid caregivers provide nearly 18.2 billion hours of informal assistance, a national contribution valued at $230.1 billion. Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women. (2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association). Caregiving duties also have a significant impact on the health of those providing care. Nearly 75% of caregivers nationwide stated that they are “very concerned to somewhat concerned” about their own health and nearly 1 in 3 caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia stated that their health has “become worse since assuming these responsibilities”.
In Virginia, we know that more than 60%of Virginia caregivers have been providing care for more than 2 years, and one-third provide care 20 hours or more a week. (2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System). Virginia caregivers reported that these responsibilities have a significant impact on their health with 13.1% reporting frequent poor mental health, 13.8% frequent poor physical health, and 23.6% reporting a history of depression.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Of the top 10 leading causes of death, it is the only cause without a way to prevent, treat, or cure the disease. Click here to learn how you can take action as an Alzheimer’s Advocate.