Updated: Jun 22
According to a scholarly article Dementia Caregiver Burden: a Research Update and Critical Analysis by S. Cheng (2017), the number of people living and suffering with dementia is rising and will double every 20 years due to global aging. When this research article was completed in 2017, there were approximately 47 million people with dementia in the world with the majority of these being cared for by close family or friends in the home.
Caregiving for a person with dementia as a family caregiver includes another level of emotional involvement that caregivers aren't cognizant of when they need to step into that role. A family caregiver is unaware of the total lifestyle changes about to happen not only to their loved one with dementia but their own lives, too. Because of this, there's a tremendous increase in depressive symptoms and physical problems in a family caregiver. I've seen this to be true in most every client I've helped who is the role of a caregiver. Preparation is key. Also, it's important to be educated on the latest dementia findings and research. These steps are crucial to help you and your loved one through this challenging neurodegenerative disease.
There is GOOD NEWS though. There are strategies that I've seen that can help the caregiver and your loved one with dementia. FIRST STEP, as a family caregiver, you have to admit that you need help. No matter your experience or background in dementia care or healthcare - it's a very different situation when it's you and your loved one, because of the emotional landscape and attachment that comes with caring for someone you love and watching them struggle. Most times there's a grieving period that occurs for the caregiver even before the individual passes away, and this is something that needs attention too throughout your loved one's journey with dementia. So REACH OUT and ask for support.
I've discovered 6 best practices as a Gerontologist I've seen alleviate stress and depressive symptoms in caregivers of a dementia loved one. Check out the infographic!
In another US study conducted by Zhu (2015), it was concluded caregiver depressive symptoms were found to be a consistent predictor of increased healthcare costs over an averaged 2 year period, including additional needs for caregivers purchased over-the-counter drugs during this time. Research predicts we are heading into a "dementia tsunami" in the decades to come and our health and social care system is expected to plummet with healthcare costs increasing unless our family caregivers are properly supported. I'm determined to help find more ways to help caregivers. Getting aging care help isn't something to feel ashamed about. Until you've been a family caregiver, it's hard to grasp the how much care is truly needed everyday for a dementia loved one.
Please reach out to me if you have any other positive best practices that you want to share to help others in need. My contact information is listed below if you want to call to schedule a free consultation over the phone to discuss your situation, too.
Laura Cassell, M.S., CDP
Gerontologist, Dementia Practitioner and Local Care Manager
Principal Area Owner of Senior Care Authority of North Florida
1. Cheng, S. Dementia Caregiver Burden: a Research Update and Critical Analysis. Curr
Psychiatry Rep19,64 (2017). doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0818-2
2. Zhu, C.W., Scarmeas, N., Ornstein, K., Albert, M., Brandt, J., Blacker, D., Sano, M. and
Stern, Y. (2015), Health‐care use and cost in dementia caregivers: Longitudinal
results from the Predictors Caregiver Study. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 11: 444-454.