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Survey: Doctors Rarely Bring Up Aging, Alzheimer's

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A major new report on the dramatic toll Alzheimer’s disease is taking on women in the U.S., who are shown to be the primary caregivers for loved ones, reveals an increasing cost to their personal and professional lives as well as their pocketbooks.

The study, titled “Women and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Caregiver’s Crisis,” surveyed 1,204 current and former caregivers who provide unpaid care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The study was commissioned by the Working Mother Research Institute and featured in the June/July issue of Working Mother magazine and online.

Highlights of the findings include:

82% of current caregivers report keeping loved ones in their home or the patient’s home. Of those women, 39% feel they have no other choice; only 16% of care is provided in a nursing facility.

Although three quarters of the current caregivers feel capable of providing care, 49% feel overwhelmed, 36% report depression, and 65% have not had a vacation in the past year.

The number of caregivers who live with their patients has doubled to 40% of current caregivers from 15%. Both nursing home and assistant living use has declined.

A whopping 84% say they themselves would want to be diagnosed early, and 51% wish their loved ones had been diagnosed sooner. Only a third of patients were diagnosed at the disease’s early stage.

The Working Mother Research Institute report is sponsored by GE, with knowledge support from the Alzheimer’s Association. Women now make up two thirds (66%) of the estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s and provide the majority of unpaid care for loved ones suffering from the disease.

“The findings are dramatic. Caretakers are providing hundreds of hours of assistance every month while juggling careers, marriages and kids,” says Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media. “The bottom line is that too many women find themselves caught in a role they did not anticipate, sustained only at great personal cost and with no clear end date.

“The caregiver’s entire life is affected, and the responsibility weighs heavily on her family and job, not to mention her own health,” she adds.