MINNEAPOLIS — Millions of Americans are providing unpaid care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or different dementia, at the expense of the economy and the caregivers’ own health.
That’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report released early Wednesday morning.
The report updates the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia to 6.7 million, including 99,000 in Minnesota. But the report focuses on the toll of the caregiver crisis, noting that 11 million people are providing unpaid care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia this year, a work equivalent of nearly $340 billion. That’s in addition to the $345 billion the disease already costs the country in total payments.
Moreover, the report predicts “1.2 million additional direct care workers will be needed between 2020 and 2030.” And all of this while the report states the crisis continues to take a toll on caregivers’ health. According to the report, “53.1% of caregivers reported at least one chronic condition,” including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
With numbers only expected to grow, advocates urge families to reach out for more support. They also encourage family members or those living with the disease themselves to speak up and push for a diagnosis and appropriate care, beginning with the first conversations in the offices of health care providers.
“Alzheimer’s and dementia is not a normal part of the aging process, it’s a brain disease. So families need to be their strongest advocates for their loved ones and not take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Sherri Sanchez Tibbetts, Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter.
To learn more about the report and the resources available at the Alzheimer’s Association, click here. Resources can also be found at the Alzheimer’s Association and AARP’s Community Resource Finder. You can also learn more about local support options through the Area Agencies on Aging.
Karla Hult herself remains an advocate for those on the Alzheimer’s journey after losing her own dad to the cruel disease in 2019. Hult also started So Many Goodbyes as a resource for others on this difficult journey on Father’s Day, 2021.
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