16.1 million Americans are unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers

Worried man with hand on forehead leaning on wall at homeWAVEBREAKMEDIA/SHUTTERSTOCK

The Annual Report also notes that in 2017, unpaid caregivers—family members and friends—supplied an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care that can be valued at $232 billion. When Tyson-Wearren began caring for her mother, she transferred from a position of growth to one in which there was little hope for advancement. She was able to complete a Master’s program while working nights and today is Social Work Supervisor. “My current struggle is trying to regain financial value in the workplace,” she says.

Insurance may not cover Alzheimer’s care

Talk of patient and doctorPRESSMASTER/SHUTTERSTOCK

A successful businessman told Drew that he planned for everything except his wife’s Alzheimer’s. She was physically strong, but couldn’t be safely left alone. Medicare won’t cover medical care for people with Alzheimer’s until they’re 65 or older—and long-term nursing home care is not covered. Medicaid may pay for medical care and long-term care if the patient meets medical and financial requirements, but eligibility and benefits vary from state to state. Veterans with Alzheimer’s may be eligible for medical and long-term care.

Physical feelings may fade, but emotions can remain

Adult son hugging his senior dadFILIPE FRAZAO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Caregiver Martha Oliver notes that her husband likes to change his outfit several times a day and often has no idea what season it is. “He wants to put on a jacket in the summer,” she says. Although he sometimes talks gibberish and has difficulty communicating, says Oliver, “he has deep feelings. He tells me a million times a day he loves me.

Musical memories can be more resilient

Old piano keysLUNYOV ANDREY/SHUTTERSTOCK

Humming a tune may help an Alzheimer’s patient when they are in distress, notes Jeff Allen, the Life Enrichment Coordinator at Fellowship Senior Living. “If a person with Alzheimer’s is yelling or agitated, you may be able to redirect them with music,” says Allen.

Alzheimer’s can bring families together

Three generation family eating pizza togetherBBERNARD/SHUTTERSTOCK

“There are many positive things that happen that take people by surprise,” notes Anne Weisbrod, the director of Social Services at Hebrew Home at Riverdale. “People who have been angry and frustrated may become affectionate and demonstrative. It is great for both the resident and their family,” she says.

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