On June 1, 2017, Home Care Assistance, the leading provider of in-home care for seniors, released a study they commissioned through Research Now illuminating the emotional impact of dementia caregiving in the United States. With one in four adults serving as a caregiver for an aging loved one and with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia surging among our rapidly aging population, the unrelenting stress and emotional toll of witnessing the “long goodbye” stands to pose a health care challenge of its own.
With roughly 5.5 million Americans living with dementia, the illness actually costs more to care for ($259 billion) than cancer ($77 billion) and heart disease ($102 billion) combined. Behind these numbers lies a hidden, but very real, emotional cost to family caregivers who help those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias manage daily living.
Based on an analysis of 670 family caregivers in the U.S. surveyed between May 8 and 11 of this year, the following results were concluded:
Dementia Caregivers Experience Higher Rates of Physical, Emotional and Mental Burnout
Often referred to as “caregiver burnout”, the survey found that dementia caregivers were seven times more likely to experience daily physical, emotional and mental exhaustion from caregiving than non-dementia caregivers. The survey also found that dementia caregivers were three times more likely to feel extreme stress from their caregiving responsibilities than other types of caregivers.
Dementia Caregivers Feel the Most Stress From Watching Their Loved One Decline, While Other Caregivers Are Most Stressed From Juggling Work and Care Responsibilities
In contrast to other types of care that may have a focus on recovery and rehabilitation, caring for someone with dementia can oftentimes be more challenging since the person is facing a long, inevitable decline. Based on the survey results, 38 percent of those caring for a loved one with dementia feel the most stress from watching their loved one decline, while 33 percent of those caring for a loved one without dementia feel the most stress from having to juggle their job and caregiving responsibilities.
When looking at gender breakdowns of stress, the survey showed that male dementia caregivers were 21 percent more likely to feel stressed from having to juggle their job and caregiving responsibilities than female dementia caregivers.
When It Comes to Managing Child and Senior Care, Female Dementia Caregivers Experience Higher Rates of Caregiver Guilt
Numerous studies have shown the disproportionate impact Alzheimer’s and other dementias have on women. Not only do women make up two-thirds of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but they also make up two-thirds of the dementia caregiver demographic. Furthermore, researchers at Stanford recently discovered that women are at higher risk “for lowering or exiting their career trajectory owing to caregiver demands.”
According to Home Care Assistance’s survey, female dementia caregivers were twice as likely to feel extreme guilt for not tending to their own family and children’s needs than male dementia caregivers. More so, there were some significant discrepancies seen between females that were caring for a loved one with dementia and females that were caring for a loved one with another disease. Female dementia caregivers were 61 percent more likely to feel extreme guilt for not tending to their own family and children’s needs than non-dementia female caregivers.
“We’re facing an impending health crisis not only for the tens of millions living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but also for the loved ones that care for them,” said Lily Sarafan, CEO of Home Care Assistance. “Reliable data on the spectrum of family caregiver experiences, as well as solutions for caregivers to effectively manage their own health and wellness, are essential components of the broader care ecosystem. Our hope is that breathtaking scientific advances and lifespan gains are accompanied by thoughtful leadership and policies to address the realities of caregiving.”
Enter to Win a Home Care Grant
In acknowledgement of the heightened stresses of dementia caregiving, Home Care Assistance will be awarding respite care grants to 60 family caregivers. The program was launched in conjunction with its partnership with Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and Move for Minds, and is open to caregivers across the country. Home Care Assistance is providing Respite Grants to 60 lucky recipients across the participating cities. These grants are for individuals caring for a loved one who need a much deserved break for him or herself. We are currently accepting submissions through July by visiting http://homecareassistance.com/moveforminds and filling out the form. We have already selected initial recipients in each city and they will be recognized this Sunday at the Move for Minds events!
To view the complete findings around the emotional cost of dementia caregiving, download the full report here: http://homecareassistance.com/emotional-costs-dementia-caregiving.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Research Now on behalf of Home Care Assistance from May 8th-11th, 2017 among 670 family caregivers aged 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighted variables, please contact Grace Zavolock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Home Care AssistanceHome Care Assistance is the leading provider of in-home care for seniors serving the United States, Canada and Australia. Its uniquely integrated, science-based approach to aging directly supports individual lifestyles and quality longevity, enabling seniors to live happier, healthier lives at home. Named an Inc. 5000 company eight years in a row and one of the 50 fastest growing women-owned companies worldwide in 2017, Home Care Assistance has been recognized as a 2017 Endorsed National Provider by the home care industry’s leading research firm, Home Care Pulse. Home Care Assistance CEO Lily Sarafan was also named Health Care Executives’ 2016 Woman of the Year.