If you have a loved one battling Alzheimer’s-- you know all too well the responsibility involved in caring for someone with the disease.
A new report out by the Alzheimer’s Association shows just how much some caregivers are sacrificing to care for, and financially support, their loved ones; basic necessities like food, transportation, even their own medical needs.
The survey shows 13 percent of caregivers sold personal belongings, like a car, to care for their love one. More than a third quit their jobs or cut back their hours for the same reason. The report also found that about one in five caregivers go hungry because they don’t have enough money to buy food, while offering financial assistance to someone living with the disease.
Keith Fargo, the Alzheimer's Association director of scientific programs and outreach, says the survey shows that people are not prepared for the high costs of home care or nursing home care. The median cost of a home care aide is $20 per hour and the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $80,300 per year.
Nationwide, there are 5.4 million people with Alzheimer's, the most common cause of dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 67,000 residents in Colorado currently have the disease.
Denver resident Darlene Jensen Walker is a caregiver for her mother, Elaina Jensen, 79.
Elaina began losing her memory 11 years ago, though the disease has become more aggressive in the past five years. Jensen-Walker said watching her mother’s memory decline has taken an emotional toll on her family.
“I don’t go a day without thinking about the situation-- how to improve it, how to make it better, how to help my dad get respite- being a 24-hour care-giver,” said Jensen-Walker, “ I take her to all of her medical appointments, I take time off work, I just drove my parents to Arizona, because it would have been too much for them on their own.”
Though tough at times, Jensen-Walker said she doesn’t see it as a sacrifice, though she recognizes it is a heavy burden for so many others.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds in the U.S.
Nationally, researchers expect the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by 2050 will rise to 13.8 million.