Alzheimers Disease Taking Growing Toll on West Virginians

The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), May 3, 2017 | Go to article overview

Alzheimers Disease Taking Growing Toll on West Virginians


According to the Alzheimers Association, West Virginia Chapter, more than 107,000 West Virginia caregivers provided 122 million hours of unpaid care for someone living with Alzheimers or dementia last year. Last month, the 2017 Alzheimers Disease Facts and Figures report was issued, stating that, for the first time, total payments for caring for individuals living with Alzheimers or other dementias exceeded a quarter trillion dollars ($259 billion).

The report also addressed the diseases impact on caregivers, including family members.

Caring for someone with Alzheimers or other dementias is exceptionally demanding on families, Alzheimers Association, West Virginia Chapter Executive Director Bethany Hall said. Among primary caregivers of people with dementia, over half take care of their parents. And, nearly one quarter of those dementia caregivers are sandwich generation caregiver, meaning they are not only caring for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.

Nationally, more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimers dementia. In 2016, Alzheimers caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care, which the report valued at more than $230 billion.

The report relates that of those who care for patients for more than 40 hours a week, 69 percent are women.

The Facts and Figures report also found that caregiving can produce physical and mental health consequences. It says that 35 percent of caregivers for people with Alzheimers or another dementia report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared to one out of five (19 percent) caregivers for older people without dementia. Anxiety and depression are also more prevalent among dementia caregivers than among those providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.

Often times, caregivers forget to care for themselves. We at the Alzheimers Association hope these

findings encourage caregivers of people living with dementia to proactively look for signs of caregiver stress and seek the

resources and support we offer to help manage their stress, Hall said. …

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