National Alzheimer’s Month and National Caregivers Month

More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, and the disease impacts their loved ones in a huge way.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has recently published “2010 Report: Medicines in Development for Alzheimer’s Disease.” Among the statistics included the report are these:

• Some 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias live at home, where they are cared for by family and friends.

• In 2009, nearly 11 million family members and friends provided an average of 21.9 hours of unpaid care per week for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, for a total of about 12.5 billion hours of care. That year, the estimated economic value of the unpaid care was $144 billion.

My motherI can tell you from personal experience that caregiving offers many challenges as well as blessings. My associate, Beverly Ellison, wrote in a recent post about becoming the caregiver for her mother and also shared do’s and don’ts for Alzheimer’s.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Caregivers Month. Caregivers give unselfishly of their time and energy and emotions to care for those they love who are being devastated by the progressive, fatal disease. Caregivers deserved to be honored all the time—especially during National Caregivers Month.

Call a caregiver to chat, drop by for a short visit, or take her to lunch. Volunteer to sit with the patient for a couple of hours so the caregiver can go shopping. If one of your family members is caring for a mutual relative with Alzheimer’s, offer to help and let the caregiver know how much you appreciate what she is doing. A  little appreciation goes a long way.

And before the end of the month, you can give a caregiver a special gift—Help! What Do I Do Now? Caring for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s. Short, easy-to-read, and, above all, useful, this guide filled with practical tips caregivers can use every day was written by my sister Nancy Nicholson, a social worker with both personal and professional experience with Alzheimer’s. The Watch for more information next week. 

Creative Commons License photo credit: Vince Alongi.

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