According to a recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 15 million unpaid caregivers help someone with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the USA, a 37% increase form last year.  Collectively, these workers provide 17 billion hours of unpaid care, which the reports values at US$ 202.6 billion.   If Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers were the only residents of a single state, it would be the fifth-largest in the USA.  These staggering numbers help illustrate the impact that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can have on both the American and global economy.

While the number are certainly concerning, an article about the report published on USA Today helps better understand the disease’s impact on caregivers. It highlights the story of 22 year old Keri Roaten, who cared for her grandmother Eavie for five years at home.  In the article, Keri mentions how she “did everything from bathing her to keeping her from roaming around, to feeding her. I took care of the bills, grocery shopping — everything she had been doing.”  During this time Keri “was still in high school.”  Later on, Keri  “gave up cheerleading and a college opportunity” and oversaw  “all of her grandmother’s medical needs.”  Despite the sacrifice, Keri mentions that “she does not regret” her efforts.  She finished her interview by stating that she never received “caregiving support resources or help for her” from physicians.  “Knowing there were resources would have helped me a lot,” she said.

As shown on the video below, Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the only one among the top 10 that has no prevention or cure.  Worldwide, the total estimated costs of dementia were US$604 billion in 2010.

Share your thoughts on this report with IAHSA. How has Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affected your community? Your country? Do you know an unpaid caregiver? What steps can be taken to give them more support?

For more information:

Alzheimer’s Association

USA Today

World Alzheimer’s Report