According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 19 million people have a relative with Alzheimer’s disease. Of the 4 million people with the disease in the United States, 70 percent live at home — about three-quarters of them are cared for by family or friends.
Caregivers often are expected to be strong, anticipate problems, be patient and accept new responsibilities on an ongoing basis. Their lives may change dramatically as Alzheimer’s disease progresses in the person they care for. The freedom to go to the store, dine out or sleep soundly through the night often becomes a distant memory. It’s no wonder many caregivers feel overwhelmed, disconnected from friends and removed from what many consider their normal activities.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 80 percent of caregivers show high levels of stress and stress-related illness. Behavior changes brought on by Alzheimer’s disease compound caregiver feelings of hurt, rejection, confusion and even anger toward friends who withdraw from them. To whom can they turn when they need support?
Formal support may be offered through home health aides, support groups and public health nursing. However, it is often the support and companionship of loyal friends, neighbors and co-workers that become lifelines for caregivers.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease including caregiving resources, visit www.AlzheimerSupport.com.