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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer's Hits 5.1 Million Americans

Cases Predicted to More Than Triple -- to 16 Million -- by 2050

Alzheimer's Caregivers Stressed Physically, Financially continued...

Why? In 2006, a private room in an assisted living facility cost $35,616 a year. A private room in a nursing home cost $75,190 a year. Adult day services range from $25 to $100 a day. And home health aids cost $19 an hour.

"Ultimately, we need financial insurance protection so the disease doesn't bankrupt the whole family," McConnell says. "It is unfair to make a family choose between sending their child to college and taking care of their dad."

Dollars represent only the financial cost of Alzheimer's care. Two-thirds of these caregivers provide physically demanding care. This includes bathing, feeding, toilet trips, and incontinence care for patients whose confusion often leads them to struggle against the caregiver.

More than 70% of caregivers do this for more than a year -- and a third of them do it for five or more years. It's no wonder 40% of Alzheimer's caregivers report high levels of emotional stress.

The physical stress of caregiving is summed up in one awful statistic: People who care for dementia patients have an increased risk of death.

"Caregivers are doing a very important service to the country, but we need to do a better job of taking care of the caregiver," McConnell says.

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