Oct 2, 2011

Alzheimer's Caregivers Overwhelmed, Stressed, Does Anyone Care?

I often wonder if the families and friends of Alzheimer's caregivers understand how worried, overwhelmed and stressed a caregiver can be?

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's Caregivers Overwhelmed, Stressed, Does Anyone Care?
Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver says that women tell her that "no one understands"; and that, on a scale of one to five, the majority of caregivers rate their stress level -- 5 out of 5.

If I was to answer the question at the top of the page based on the emails I receive, and the comments on this blog, I would have to answer -- no, the majority don't understand. Many families and friends don't understand how worried, overwhelmed, and stressed Alzheimer's caregivers feel.

I am wondering what percentage of families and friends do understand? What percentage don't understand?

The acid test -- actions speak louder than words.

A survey of 524 non-professional caregivers, which was conducted by Harris Interactive in September 2010 for Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) in partnership with the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA), provides insight into the current state of affairs.

In other words, how Alzheimer's disease caregivers think and feel.
  • 60 percent of Alzheimer's disease caregivers surveyed said they feel overwhelmed
  • 55 percent of Alzheimer's disease caregivers surveyed said caring for their loved one has taken a toll on their own health
  • Women surveyed were more likely to worry "all the time" compared to men [13 percent versus 3 percent]. 
  • Women were less likely than men to feel that they have enough support to take care of themselves and their own needs [60 percent versus 76 percent]
  • The three greatest Alzheimer's disease caregiver concerns about the progression of their loved one's AD were memory loss (41 percent), personal safety (33 percent) and confusion (27 percent)
  • 84 percent of Alzheimer's disease caregivers of loved ones with severe Alzheimer's disease surveyed said caregiving frequently stops them from participating in activities that they enjoy, which is more than caregivers of loved ones with mild (67 percent) and moderate (68 percent) AD

I wonder, does the failure of many families and friends to understand how Alzheimer's caregivers feel happen because the Alzheimer's caregiver fails to tell them? Or, does it happen because family and friends fail to ask?

Does it happen because families and friends don't want to know? Or because like many things in life, it is easier to avoid the issue? The head in the sand approach.

I am interested in hearing your opinions on these issues. You can use the Add New Comment box below to tell us how you feel, and what you think.

If you have a lot to say, or strong opinions, submit an article around this topic.

Current and new writers/contributors are encouraged to write and share their personal experiences.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,910 articles with more than 652,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room