Newark, N.J. -- Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias affect not just the patient but also individual caregivers who suffer much stress as they try to cope with providing their loved one with the best care possible.
To help address these issues, The Center for Geriatric Health Care at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an affiliate of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System, will hold a conference entitled “Caring For You, Caring For Me” on Saturday, August 4, 2007. Topics will address how to cope with the stress, nurture your own needs and get help from states-offered programs.
Roughly 11.1 million Americans of all ages receive either formal or informal care at any given time. Those afflicted with AD require regular day to day-to-day care ranging from driving to doctors appointments to complete care; providing a person’s bathing, dressing, feeding, and even diaper changes when the loved-one becomes incontinent.
In the United States the number of non paid (informal) caregivers ranges from 20 to 50 million people. The typical caregiver is a daughter age 46, with a full-time job, providing an average of 18 hours per week to her aging parents. A large percentage of older spouses also try to care for AD patients at home. Although many of these caregivers are not working outside the home, about two-third of the caregivers – over age 50 – are employed full time. About 45 percent of these people reported having to rearrange work schedules, decrease hours or take unpaid leave in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities. Recent studies estimate these individuals lose an average of $600,000 in wage wealth over their lifetime due to theses sacrifices.
The cost to care for people with a chronic illness at home is expensive. According to statistics, there is a three-fold increase in the cost of medical care between the ages of 65 to 85, primarily because of the high cost of homecare and caregiving.
Financial disaster is not the only potential problem associated with caring for the AD patient. Most families still prefer to keep a loved one with dementia at home. As the disease progresses and the person become more dependent and functionally impaired, the average caregiver spends two-thirds of their day providing care. Toward the final stages of the disease, patient care tasks leave them only about two hours per week for themselves or friends.
According to Theresa Redling, DO, FACP, Chief of Division of Geriatric Medicine at Newark Beth Israel, the results of this are caregiver burnout: social isolation, depression, medical illness and at the extreme, elder abuse or neglect.
“Many studies show that the burden of caregiving has an actual physical effect on the body. Caregivers live shorter lives, miss work due to illness and possibly require long-term care placement themselves if help is not gotten soon enough, “Dr Redling explains.
Different ethnic groups look for support from those with whom they are comfortable and familiar. African Americans and Latinas reach out to religious and spiritual advisors for counseling and support more so than their Caucasian counterparts. Men have less physical stress when providing care than their female counterparts. However, since most people go into informal caregiving without training and counseling, they often are not aware of the many resources available for both homecare services and caregiver support. Nurturing the caregiver is extremely important.
The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Parsonnet Danzis Auditorium at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, 201 Lyons Avenue in Newark. Free continental breakfast and lunch will be served and attendance is by reservation only. To make a reservation, please call The Center for Geriatric Health Care at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center at 973-926-6771 by July 20, 2007.
Date: June 21, 2007
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