Alzheimer's Brings Financial, Emotional Strain for Oklahoma Caregivers

By Caliendo, Heather | THE JOURNAL RECORD, April 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Alzheimer's Brings Financial, Emotional Strain for Oklahoma Caregivers


Caliendo, Heather, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Bob Sillman was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease three years ago.

His wife, Shirley Sillman, retired from her job in February to stay at home and take care of him, which resulted in a significant drop in their income.

"He needed me to be here and he also has heart issues, so I needed to be home with him," said Shirley Sillman. "I would rather have quality time with him than have him linger in a nursing home."

As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Family members provide care at home for about 70 percent of people with Alzheimer's disease. In 2008, about 10 million Alzheimer's caregivers in the United States provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at $94 billion, reported by the Alzheimer's Association.

It's important to remember that behind these facts and figures are real people, said Tonda Ames, vice president of marketing and programs for the Oklahoma and Arkansas chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

"These people deal with not only the financial impact of the disease, but the emotional impact as well," she said. "Oftentimes we hear that the caregiver passes away before the person with the disease because of the stress associated with care giving."

Without Medicare, Sillman said it would cost about $300 each month for her husband's prescriptions, in addition to a patch that costs $400 every three months.

The Alzheimer's Association stated total health care costs are more than three times higher for people age 65 and older suffering with Alzheimer's and other dementias. Direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer's and other dementias amount to more than $148 billion annually.

Sillman said she thinks the health care costs are so high because as the disease progresses, it affects other areas of the body.

"It's not just Alzheimer's that takes the toll," she said. …

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