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Caregiver Depression: A Very Real, Very Common Concern

Caring for a family member or friend who is living with a memory disorder is a labor of love. The decision to do so is made for many reasons, most often because loved ones feel a deep emotional need to embark on this often rewarding, but challenging pursuit. While it can feel very good to be able to support a loved one in a time of need, providing constant help can take its toll on caregivers. After all, providing care around the clock to someone with a memory disorder calls for long hours, hard work and the willingness to face unpredictability. As time passes, the work can be very emotionally draining. The American Psychological Association estimates about 40 to 70 percent of family caregivers will experience the symptoms of depression. Another 25 to 50 percent may show signs of major depression as the emotional drains of caregiving take serious tolls. The effects are often felt, the APA points out, due to the overtaxing caregivers are likely to face. Most dedicate at least 20 hours a week to providing care to their loved ones. This part-time commitment is generally performed on top of a regular workweek. Essentially, caregiving is likely to leave caregivers with very little time to rest and provide care for themselves. Caregivers may find their sleeping habits disrupted, anxiety levels higher, eating schedules off kilter and more. All of that adds up to a real concern for caregiver health. Caregivers facing depression, healthcare providers say, may not even realize it. As they are pulled in multiple directions, trying to do their best each day, they may overlook...

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month: FAQs about Alzheimer’s

Worldwide, 47 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. No matter how common it may be, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Here are some important things everyone should know about Alzheimer’s and dementia. (Facts and figures below provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.) What is Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s is a disease that attacks the brain. It is defined by progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common form of dementia. Because it is a progressive disease, symptoms gradually worsen over the years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but late-stage Alzheimer’s can affect an individual’s ability to communicate and respond to his or her environment. Who is affected by Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages. By 2050, this number could rise as high as 16 million. Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s. Of those living with Alzheimer’s disease, 5.3 million are age 65 and older. About one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s. Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. What are the signs of Alzheimer’s? If your loved one is experiencing a decline in memory, thinking or reasoning skills, it may be a sign your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Here are some of the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s. (Signs and symptoms may vary from one individual to the next.) • Memory loss that disrupts daily life • Challenges in planning or solving problems •...

The Unique Challenges Faced by Millennial Caregivers

Older teenagers and young adults in their 20s aren’t the people we picture when we think of “caregivers.” Often we think of older adults, caring for much older parents. But it’s becoming more and more common for the younger generation—some not yet out of high school—to step in as caregivers for aging and ailing parents and grandparents. Read...