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Honoring Alzheimer's caregivers this month

 

Last updated 11/23/2022 at 12:20pm | View PDF

About 3.3% of the U.S. population – over 11 million people – currently serve as volunteer, unpaid caregivers for 6.5 million loved ones living with Alzheimer's disease. In Colorado alone, we have more than 159,000 unpaid caregivers assisting over 76,000 people with Alzheimer's.

November is a special month to honor this unique, dedicated group of people. Originally designated as National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the event later was expanded by President Bill Clinton to honor our nation's caregivers: National Family Caregivers Month.

To be clear, Alzheimer's is a horrible disease that takes a toll not just on those living with it, but their volunteer caregivers and our society as a whole. For example:

The average voluntary caregiver provides over 27 hours of care per week.

Across the U.S. in 2021, volunteer caregivers provided about 16 billion hours of unpaid care. At a value of $16.98/hour, that total ($271.6 billion) is more than 14 times McDonald's revenue in 2020 ($19.2 billion).

In Colorado in 2021, 159,000 volunteer caregivers provided 184 million hours of unpaid care valued at $3.7 billion.

Beyond their time, caregivers make direct financial contributions. On average in 2021, dementia caregivers reported spending $12,388 each for medical, personal care and household expenses for the person with dementia.

The disease also takes a personal toll: a Stanford University study reported that caregivers have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers, and 40% of Alzheimer's caregivers die from stress-related disorders before the person for whom they are caring.

There is help for these heroic caregivers. The Alzheimer's Association offers a wide range of educational programs and services – all at no charge – for caregivers of persons living with Alzheimer's disease. To learn more, go to http://www.alz.org or call the Association's free 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

 

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