As we continue to age, many of use will contract age-related vision problems. As a matter of fact, statistics show that 37% of visits to the physician’s office for those over the age of sixty-five are for eyesight related events. And although those over sixty-five only make up roughly 12% of the population, they account for nearly 30% of those who are visually impaired.
Age-Related Eye Disorders
For the elderly, one of the most common age-related vision disorders is cataracts, a cloudy build-up on our lenses that happens over time. Other conditions that can occur with age include:
- Diabetic Retinopathy – One of the complications some with diabetes can suffer, damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes that can lead to a loss in vision.
- Glaucoma – The cause of this eye disease is unknown, but it presents with increased pressure to the eye that leads to gradual vision loss.
- Macular Degeneration – Vision loss in the center of our field of vision (the macula) due to damage to the retina
Of these afflictions, those highlighted can be treated with surgery and although these conditions can’t be cured, treatment can improve vision, and in some cases, save our valuable eyesight. With surgery comes the need for after care, and there are some things you should expect from your caregiver and yourself following cataract eye surgery. For example, if you have cataracts in both eyes, surgery is performed on two separate occasions, so therefore a caregiver would be needed more than once.
According to the prestigious Mayo Clinic, following cataract surgery, vision will be blurry for a few days as the eyes begin to heal. Most patients will see their doctor or surgeon within two or three days of the procedure, so it’s best to have a caregiver to provide transportation.
It’s normal to feel some minor discomfort and itching in the affected area and many doctors recommend those recovering wear an eyepatch. This protective shield should also be worn while sleeping and can prevent the patient from rubbing their eyes, which can be harmful during healing. Eye drops or other medications may be prescribed for some patients and not others. Because of the blurry vision associated with early healing, caregivers may need to administer this medication.
Watch For Warning Signs
Another reason a caregiver is important for someone with poor vision following surgery is the importance of watching for some conditions that require immediate medical attention. These conditions can occur and the patient should see their doctor immediately:
- Vision loss or worsening eyesight rather than improvement
- Persistent pain that isn’t aided with the use of over-the-counter pain medications
- Increasing redness of the eyes
- Multiple flashes of light or “floaters” that can appear in the field of vision
- Coughing, nausea and/or vomiting
Other Aftercare Conditions
Most people will need glasses following surgery, some full-time and others may need them for reading or other upclose vision necessities like using a computer. The doctor will advise the patient when their eyes have healed enough for an eye examination that could lead to a new or updated prescription for corrective lenses.
Surgeries for cataracts removal are very common and can bring back valuable vision for the vast majority of patients undergoing this procedure. An inhome caregiver should definitely be a consideration for those who receive this type of eye surgery.
Autumn is a great time of year in many locations, not too hot and not too cold, which is pretty much the yearly temperature in Los Angeles, but Fall can be very beautiful as well. Many might not think of seeing the Fall colors in the City of Angels, but according to CBS Los Angeles, there’s more to look at than palm trees, especially in the Autumn months.
Check out some of these popular destinations for seeing the changing colors of the season in the greater Los Angeles area:
- Grand Central Market: Forget the foliage, see the many colors of healthy fruits and vegetables that come with the harvest in downtown LA. You can take the metro to this festive location and stock up on all your favorite fall comfort foods.
- Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area: One of the largest open spaces in LA and also one of its best kept secrets. Enjoy the changing colors of the season at the Japanese garden or check out the Audubon Society’s bird watching walk.
- Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: Often just called The Arboretum, these beautiful gardens are open seven days a week with a few exceptions during Christmas time. With over 100 acres of acres of plants, trees, flowers and wildlife you’ll have plenty to see in the Autumn months.
- Rustic Canyon Park: Located in nearby Santa Monica, this shady park has plenty of trees and recreational activities including a villa-style rec center and picnic area. For those more active seniors, check out the tennis courts, basketball and baseball facilities.
- Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Center: This non-denominational temple and gardens welcomes visitors of any faith to visit their beautiful, landscaped shrine located in the Palisades. Watch the gliding swans on the lake, visit the Dutch Windmill and pay your respects to a shrine that contains some of Gandhi’s ashes.
TRICK OR TREAT
What’s Halloween without candy and crowds of cute little kids in costume? Sadly, nowadays many parents and children aren’t participating in this door-knocking traditional, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t still see some children all dressed up in their imaginary autumn outfits.
Residents of the Los Angeles area can attend the 8th Annual Halloween Party for Downtown Kids (rain or shine) at the Grand Hope Park at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Costumes are required for kids and admission will run adults $5.00 in advance (recommended) or $8.00 at the door with children under two given free admission. While this family friendly event is geared towards entertaining the kiddies, it’s still a great place to see youngsters in costume.
ORANGE COUNTY CREATURE FEATURES
The “Frightfully Fun” 18th Annual Trick or Treat Festival is held yearly in nearby Costa Mesa at the Orange County Marketplace. Although admission is free, you’ll still need to register and receive a ticket in order to attend. In addition to tons of tots in costume, you’ll also want to check out the pumpkin sculptor Doug Goodreau and vote for your “Favorite Frightfully Fun Potential Presidential Candidate Pumpkin,” showcasing the likenesses of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
If cars are more your thing rather than kids, you can view the Bug and Monster car show in the 16th Annual Halloween Hearse Show. From 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., check out the hearses, ambulances, limousines and other funeral cars as well as vintage VW Beetles, Cobras, Spiders, Vipers, Barracudas and other novelty cars.
So there’s no need to wait around at home for Halloween to come to your door when you can attend one of these fun events. If you’d rather chill during this holiday season, go to one of the many parks, arboretums gardens and recreational facilities. Either way, have a Happy Halloween and a Spooktacular Autumn this year.
For today’s women, their numbers continue to grow in our aging population at a rate faster than their male counterparts. Throughout history, women have always had longer lifespans when compared to men. Newsweek reports that the global elderly population will continue to be comprised of more women than men, specifically in:
- Western Europe, men typically live six years less than women
- Eastern European, male longevity averages seven to eight years fewer than for women
- Russia and Lithuania, the number expands up to a twelve year age difference
Even in places where male longevity is the highest, in Canada, Israel and Japan, men still come out on the short end of the stick averaging a two to four year lack in years lived.
According to more statistics from the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention), women over the age of 65 are trumping their male counterparts in a number of ways when it comes to in home health care. In their older age brackets, the number of women outweigh men:
- 65 years of age and older, 55% more women are in home care
- Aged 65 to 74 years of age, there are 60% more females cared for in home
- Those 85 years and beyond, 22% more women are looked after in home
For both sexes, the services received by those utilizing in home care include skilled nursing services (84%), physical therapy (40%), ADL’s (assistance with Activities of Daily Living at 37%), homemaker services (17%), occupational therapy (14%) wound care and dietary counseling (both at 14%). When gender comes into play, the differences shift to men being more likely to receive more skilled nursing assistance (including wound care and physical therapy) compared to women that utilize more homemaker services at a level twice than that of men.
When it comes to persistent health conditions, by definition chronic symptoms last more than three months, some of these differences were noted:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure was more prevalent in women
- Cases of osteoporosis was higher in women than men
- Men topped women in cases of malignant neoplasms, or cancerous tumors
For both genders, high blood pressure is found in about half of all those receiving in home health care over the age of sixty-five. Almost 40% of seniors have a heart disease, 32% have diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary conditions are found in 15% of those receiving in home care, 13% have osteoporosis, 10% suffer from dementia, cancerous tumors are in 9% of these older people and 8% have a cerebrovascular disease, which affects the way blood vessels supply the brain.
When it comes to the person offering care, men are more likely to have a spouse as their primary health provider due to this difference in longevity. On the other hand, women who are more likely to be widowed often have another family member, such as an adult child or sibling, care for their needs as they continue to age.
The CDC concludes that this information can be beneficial for assisting both healthcare providers and family members to better understand the different conditions of those needing care in their older years. For any questions or concerns about in home care for you or a family member, please contact us today. We’d be happy to address your inquiries and will always offer the best solutions for in home care.
The need for quality in home care providers is growing by leaps and bounds and ABC news reported that by 2020, the number of these caregivers will swell to 1.3 million, a 70% increase from 2010. While this is a boom for the business itself, it makes finding the right care agency even more difficult for those seeking assistance.
So how can we tell which agency to choose, especially those in the greater and populous Los Angeles area where there’s over three hundred of them listed at Yelp. With hundreds to choose from, which one is the right one for the aging senior citizen and their loved ones? What makes their business so special when compared to all the others out there?
Try using this checklist to see if the agency you’re looking for has everything that you need or could possibly need in the future so you won’t have to switch providers.
☑ QUALIFICATIONS – Some people may not know that many caregivers have no medical training or experience in the health field whatsoever and there’s a host of other qualifications that may be overlooked, for example, are they:
- Checked for a possible criminal background?
- Do they have a good driving record?
- Are they tested for illegal drug use and for communicable diseases like TB?
- Do they get regular training to stay current with caregiving practices?
- Are they licensed, bonded and insured?
These are all important questions when it comes to having someone in a house caring for our loved ones.
☑ FLEXIBILITY – Do they offer flexible plans for caregiving schedules? Agencies should be able to provide everything from a simple one-hour visit for companionship to more complex, round-the-clock care. This way, you can be ready for the unexpected at all times.
☑ DUTIES – Can they provide more than traditional caregiving services? Sometimes people need additional help with things like laundry, housekeeping, plant and pet care. There’s also grooming and daily hygiene that may need attention.
☑ DIETARY – Do they offer assistance with dietary needs, the preparation and planning of nutritious meals? The recipient in need of care may have a special diet that could also require monitoring and the assurance they are eating properly.
☑ MEDICATION – The similar is true for medication, since statistics prove that as we age, we also take more prescription drugs. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), of seniors over the age of sixty, 70% of them take at least two medications and 37% are managing five or more. As we continue to age and our memory begins to fade, many seniors need assistance with dosages, varying amounts, times and can struggle to remember if they have actually taken their pills according to schedule.
☑ TRANSPORTATION – Can the agency provide reliable transportation and/or accompaniment if necessary? Not only for doctor’s appointments and picking up medications, but grocery shopping and other errands.
☑ MISCELLANEOUS – There’s still a number of other items that in home caregivers should provide that are often overlooked, sometimes called ADL (Activities of Daily Living), things like:
- Assisting with maintaining a calendar of social events
- Arranging appointments and giving reminders
- Help with reading, writing and correspondence
- Assistance with walking, mobility and exercise
You want to make sure that you and your loved ones feel completely comfortable and confident about your decision and we can safely answer all these questions and situations presented here with a resounding YES WE CAN!
The agency you choose should have no reservations about answering any and all questions that you may have and you can contact us today with all your inquiries, big or small. We’d be more than happy to discuss the many affordable options available.
According to the California Department of Aging, the growth of our senior population, especially those in the Los Angeles area, will continue to grow by leaps and bounds going into 2020. From the period of 1990 through 2020, the rises that are projected in the greater LA region are:
- Those aged 50 and over are estimated to grow between 50% to 99%
- The 85 and older group are estimated to expand even larger, from 150% to 199%
As this age group continues to rise in numbers, the risk of isolation also increases. AARP reported that 10% of their members who were survey reported they had trouble “staying connected” with family, friends and neighbors. AARP also pointed to studies that show being alone and isolated can be just as unhealthy as smoking or even worse than being obese. Seniors who become out of touch with their peers and other people in their social circles have much higher mortality rates for chronic conditions like breast cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The Power of Purpose
Several years ago, Richard J. Leider wrote a book about aging positively called “The Power of Purpose,” inspired by what he calls “the executive death syndrome” that points to painful statistics. According to his research, he found that while some retirees lead a happy and healthy lifestyle, others die within just three short years of leaving the workforce.
Leider, an executive coach and author, has long advocated the power of purpose and the dangers of social isolation, especially for the elderly. Richard suggests identifying and pursuing your purpose, your passion, the reason you get out of bed every morning, which is vital at any age, but more important for retirees who are at a greater risk of loneliness and a lackluster lifestyle.
Nature and Nurture
“Isolation is fatal,” states Leider, “We need to do a better job of helping people reimagine what they truly care about in life.” He recommends nurturing pets and being outdoors more with hobbies like gardening that can actually lead to a person to living seven years longer than their more sedentary and lonelier counterparts.
For those who are homebound due to health conditions or a disability, family and friends should step up to the plate and visit more often, even if it’s just for a chat or a game of cards. If distance is an issue when it comes to regular visits, consider hiring an in home caregiver to provide companionship in your absence.
Volunteer and Outreach Programs
For those who are still active and feel they still have something to offer, volunteer programs are a great way to stay connected with the outside world. Contact your local senior center to reach out to elderly peers. Not only to they provide a wide variety of interactive programs, workshops and events, most of them also have volunteer programs for older adults. The parks and recreation department is another place to look for peer groups for socialization and reconnecting with peers.
Finding activities to enjoy will not only help our aging population fill their days with fun, but it will also nurture their mind and spirit. Whether they’re playing with a pet or out in the yard gardening, even these activities that are absent an accomplice can make them feel more connected and less isolated.
For caregivers in the Los Angeles area, 2015 has brought us some headlines recently for these important supporters and guardians. In a recent report from US News, they discuss the importance of dealing with dementia in older patients and cite these two important tips for their caregivers:
- Understand the illness and know exactly what to expect
- Care for them in the same way that you would want to be cared for
You have to put yourselves in their shoes and understand how frightening this debilitating disease can be at times. When you come to understand their frustration, you can better deal with moments of anger and bitterness when they are faced with so many uncertainties.
On the brighter side, ABC in Los Angeles is reporting that the County Board of Supervisors has approved a raise for more than 140,000 In-House Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers. Their hourly wage will increase from $9.65 an hour to $11.18 by the year 2017. These health care workers look after low-income patients who are blind, disabled or over the age of 65 as a way to keep them in the comfort of their own home instead of being placed in an expensive care facility.
NOT SO GOOD NEWS
In a separate report, the Los Angeles Daily News published an article stating the state run IHSS program in California has a total of over 400,000 caregivers to look after these low-income seniors, many who have health issues. According to research, the need for these in-home caregivers is on the rise, expected to grow by 37% in the next decade which will require 1.3 million more new positions.
The problem is, there is no training required for the employment of these aids, not even first aid or CPR lessons, which puts those they care for at tremendous risk. The lack of training is “of enormous concern,” said Gary Passmore, the Vice President of the Congress of California Seniors, an advocacy organization. “We are dealing with a lot of frail, elderly people.”
FEDERAL VS. STATE
Although the Federal government is trying to do their best to step up efforts for the training of these caregivers, it’s still up to the individual states to set up these programs. For California’s IHSS, another problem is it’s sheer size, since it’s the country’s largest, publicly funded, in home care program.
According to Abby Marquand, Director of Policy Research for the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, IHSS was not set up to be a medical program. The caregivers were initially hired to do personal care and household tasks so they are not certified or licensed. But currently, over 25% of those in need of care are over the age of eighty and the majority of them have some type of health issue. In many instances, those providing care end up helping to administer insulin shots, manage multiple medications, provide basic medical care and first aid.
But the good news is that Marquand states, “It is a lot easier to ensure a minimum level of training if the person is employed through an agency,” and that’s exactly what you can expect from Presidio Home Care. All of their in home caregivers are fully trained, licensed and insured to provide the best possible care for you or your loved one. Please contact us today and we can discuss the many affordable options that are available.
There’s a telling tale about a son who becomes angered when his elderly father asks him the same question three times. The Dad reminds his offspring that when he was three years old, he would ask his parents questions, according to some statistics, sometimes three-hundred times a day, yet he never lost his patience with his child’s growing mind. It seems now the shoe is on the other foot, or more precisely, the age-related brain is in another body today.
This can be somewhat synonymous with caring for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease who begin to experience symptoms of memory loss, confusion, difficulty concentrating and a host of other frightening conditions they can’t fully understand. They also experience mood and personality changes that can range from depression to hostility, anxiety and fear, feelings of loss and hopelessness can overwhelm them at times.
In this light, it is important to remember how challenging those who suffer from these debilitating diseases can be faced with, sometimes on a daily level. So here’s seven tips to be a better caregiver for those looking after a loved one with an aging mind:
- YOU DON’T NEED TO BE RIGHT: Arguing insignificant issues with someone who has memory issues and a loss of rationale is pointless. If they think the carpet is pink instead of red, just let it go. It’s the equivalent of trying to reason with a toddler, it’s not going to get you anywhere and will just make both of you more irritated.
- AVOID BEING GROUNDED IN REALITY: People who suffer from memory loss often forget significant life events, like the loss of a spouse or other family member. Trying to keep them in the present, reminding them of this pain if they forget the loss, will only hurt them further and repeatedly. Instead, try to redirect them to another subject.
- THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PERFECTION: You can’t be a perfect caregiver, just the same as you can’t be a perfect parent. You shouldn’t hold yourself to ridiculously high standards, you’ll make mistakes and learn from them, just like anything else in life.
- HONESTY ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY: While we don’t want to lie, we don’t necessarily need to be completely truthful when it comes to caring for someone with dementia. Being dishonest about little things, telling a little white lie here and there, isn’t going to hurt anyone and will help to avoid unnecessary stress.
- BARGAINING WON’T WORK: Telling someone with memory issues not to repeat certain behaviors or offering them rewards for remembering tasks, even with reminders, obviously won’t work. Taking proactive measures is a better practice, like having a coffee pot that automatically shuts itself off rather than constantly reminding them that leaving it on the heat source can cause a fire.
- THE DON’T ASK – TELL – POLICY: As brain functions decrease with dementia, simple questions can be unnecessary and place further stress on struggling thinking processes that don’t need to happen. For example, if your caregiving regimine includes meal preparation, don’t ask them what they want for dinner, simply make them something you know they’ll enjoy. Avoiding asking questions at mealtime will also help steer clear of answers like they’re not hungry or forget what they asked for and question what you have prepared.
- YOU’RE NOT A SUPERHERO: You can’t do everything by yourself and sometimes you’ll need to reach out for help from friends and other family members. Keep a list of potential problem solvers that can do simple tasks for you like picking up prescriptions, grabbing a meal or staying with your loved one while you run an errand. This will also help to solicit offers of help and you won’t have to wait until the last minute when you’re desperate for a helping hand.
If you are in need of assistance, and you’ve run out of options, contact us for information on part-time assistance. We can offer check-in services, hourly care and more alternatives that can be custom-tailored to meet your specific needs.
In a recent earlier post, we highlighted resources for in home caregivers available from the USC Family Caregiver Support Center in their Gerontology Center. Because caregivers often spend an inordinate amount of time caring for others, they sometimes ignore their own health and well being. Similar to the old saying, “take care of your feet because your feet take you everywhere,” caregivers need to take care of themselves first so that they can provide assistance to those in their care.
Thankfully the Los Angeles area is chock full of many resources, especially those found online, that can benefit caregivers and in turn aid their recipients as well. Outside of some of the more obvious choices like the cities’ LADOA program (Los Angeles Department on Aging), check out this list of internet support systems that are available online:
Homemods.org is also based at the USC Andrus Gerontology Center and although it is designed to be a clearinghouse for professionals responding to the increased demand for home modification services for seniors and the disabled, it also exists to aid caregivers with a comprehensive inventory of resources, including:
- Online courses
- Recommendations for available modification contractors
- Government grants available from the IRS and designed for veterans
- Links to AARP resources
- Special needs for Alzheimer’s patients
Again, although this site is geared more towards home modification contractors, there’s still plenty of information for caregivers hidden between the lines.
In conjunction with a four-part television series devoted to caregivers, Your Turn To Care, the public television station KCET offers a plethora of information and resources online. On their website, they offer links to a variety of assistance available such as:
- A guide to internet support groups at Helpguide.org
- Local resources in Los Angeles including the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center
- AARP, State and National programs and resources
There’s also a number of online articles available on everything from avoiding burnout to survival guides for caregivers.
At the Inland Caregiver Resource Center (ICRC) located in nearby Colton, you’ll find a variety of help options from a list of resource centers, their blog and fact sheets about certain medical conditions that can affect the elderly. You can also find a list of local caregiver resource centers in your area.
Assistance from ALZ
Alzheimer’s own website, alz.org offers assistance for those caregivers dealing with this disease and other forms of dementia. You can get information on day-to-day issues with behavior, memory loss, communication, different types of activities and respite care available. There’s also support through their local chapters, training, tips on maintaining caregiver’s health, online message boards and groups that are available on the internet.
Dealing with Dementia
At DementiaToday.com, they also offer a comprehensive list of services for caregivers struggling with both dementia and Alzheimer’s. While some of their resources require certain criteria for those who receive care, others are toll-free hotlines, the majority of these programs and volunteer organizations that specifically cater to caregivers at no cost.
So don’t forget to take care of yourself so that you can be at your best when you look after your loved ones. If you need assistance, you can find affordable alternatives by contacting us or visiting our website for more information.
Back in 1906, a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, examined the brain of a woman who had died from an unusual mental disorder similar to dementia. In a post-mortem autopsy, he found changes in her brain’s tissue in the form of abnormal clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (neurofibrillary tangles). These plaques and tangles are now considered the hallmarks of this form of dementia. By definition:
- Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility.
- Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.
- Senility is the condition of a person showing the weaknesses or diseases of old age, especially a loss of mental faculties.
In any terms, as we age so do our brains and there is no known cure for these ailments. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia and it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death that cannot be prevented, slowed or cured and costs from this disease, along with other forms of dementia, cost our country $226 billion annually.
WARNING SIGNS AND DIAGNOSIS
An autopsy is the only way to definitively prove the presence of the plaques and tangled fibers mentioned previously, but there are some early warning signs and symptoms that caregivers should be looking for:
- Memory loss that affects daily life such as forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over again, increasingly relying on memory aids like written notes and reminders.
- Difficulty solving simple problems or planning when it comes to working with numbers or following a simple recipe.
- Challenges with familiar tasks like remembering the rules of a favorite card game or trouble driving to a regular destination.
- Confusion over a particular time or place, not remembering where they are or how they got there, difficulty understanding something if it’s not happening immediately.
- Trouble with vision, difficulty reading or having issues that are spatially related like judging distances and correctly determining different colors or contrasts.
- Conversational problems that can include difficult following or joining groups who are speaking or stopping mid-sentence and unable to continue. They could also have trouble with their vocabulary like finding the right word or calling things by a different name than what they actually are, like referring to the refrigerator as the cold box with food.
- Decision making difficulties and showing signs of poor judgement like giving large sums of money to strangers or salespeople. They may also show a significant decreased interest in personal hygiene and housekeeping.
- Show an inability to retrace their steps and misplace things more often than usual. As the disease progresses, they may accuse others of stealing or deliberately hiding these items.
- Withdrawing from their usual social activities, a decline in their interest towards their favorite hobbies and less regular communication with their friends and family members.
- Changes in mood and personality that are out of the norm, increased anxiety, depression, overly suspicious or fearful. They may become more easily upset, especially in situations or environments that are outside their comfort zone.
If your loved one seems to be exhibiting more of these signs, you should seek medical attention for them. And if you are having trouble caring for a loved one who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, please contact us today. We can help with more information on our website and discuss affordable options for care and companionship.
As a society, our elderly are making up an increasingly larger percentage of our growing population and that number will only continue to rise exponentially. For example, according to the AOA (Administration on Aging):
- The 65 and older crowd has increased from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010, a growth of 15%
- From 2010 to 2020, it’s estimated to grow by 36% to 55 million
- By 2030, there will be over 72 million senior citizens, over twice their number in 2000
People over the age of sixty-five represented 13% of the population in the year 2010, but their numbers are expected to grow to almost 20% of the population by 2030. The 85 and older group is projected to rise from 5.5 million in 2010 to 6.6 million in 2020, a 19% increase for that decade.
Along with their tremendous growth, the number of informal in home caregivers, friends and family members who look after this aging population has also continued to rise. Already in the United States, almost 66 million caregivers make up over 29% of the adult population. Around 43% of these adult caregivers are looking after someone who is over the age of fifty and almost 15% of those are caring for someone suffering with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT
Almost half of these caregivers reported using outside forms of assistance for at least one of these specific types of help on the behalf of their care recipient:
- Paid in home care assistance = 35%
- Transportation services = 29%
- Resources for financial assistance = 28%
- Respite care = 12%
The top three topics of concern to caregivers are keeping their loved one safe (37%); managing their own stress (34%); finding easy activities to do with their care recipient (34%); and finding more time for themselves.
The value given to informal caregivers, those unpaid family and friends who look after aging loved ones, was reported at $450 billion in 2011. Compare that to the annual sales of Walmart at $408 billion in 2009 and nearing the total expenditures for the Medicaid program at $509 billion in the same period. The value of those caring for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia was reported at over $202 billion in 2009.
TOLL ON CAREGIVERS
While 8% of caregivers report they feel their overall health is improved by looking after a loved one, many guardians report mental and emotional issues associated with their duties.
- Somewhere between 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with about a quarter to half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.
- 20% of caregiving women over the age of fifty show signs of depression.
- Caregivers who look after a person with mental or health issues are more likely to suffer a decline in their own health.
- Caring for people with dementia has been shown to affect the caregiver’s immune system for up to three years after care has stopped, increasing their risk of developing a chronic condition themselves.
If you need help caring for your aging loved one, please contact us and we can discuss the many affordable options available. Everything from a weekly one hour visit to complete round-the-clock care. Let our qualified professionals lift some of the burden from your caregiving duties.