“Caring for a family member with the personality-draining disease can take a hefty financial and emotional toll. Nearly 15 million people fall into the role of unpaid caregiver for those sick with dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Add it all up, and it comes to about 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $202 billion in 2010 alone.”
A recent article from National Public Radio sheds some very real light on the many costs that arise when a family tries to care for their loved ones as they live and, eventually, die from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.The article highlights the $26 million that the Obama administration has earmarked for “caregiver support, health-care provider training, and raising public awareness.”For one family, even a $100,000 lottery ticket wasn’t enough to cover the financial costs that Alzheimer’s disease inflicted, and the daily grind of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient was more than she could handle.The article ends with some of the most heartfelt and compassionate advice I’ve ever heard directed towards the people who care for their relatives: “…she says she would have spent more time with him and not been put off by his behavior. “I would have joined him more on his journey where he was at,” she says. “It’s important to put aside who they were before and learn to love the person that they are now.”It’s clear that traditional nursing home care is going to be replaced by more at-home care. The cost of traditional nursing home care is simply too large, and the rampant nursing home abuse and neglect that takes place at those facilities is creating a long-overdue change in the way people view long-term care. Consider the recent incident at Oak Park Health Care where an Alzheimer’s man was beaten to death.A cure for Alzheimer’s disease is the goal, but there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen anytime soon. Nursing homes are either unable or unwilling to commit to eradicating the abuse and neglect in the system. As we move towards more home based care, it’s important that families remain vigilant to the health and well-being of their relatives.