Alzheimer's Care Primarily Provided by Unpaid Caregivers

Eighty percent of care worth billions given by some 15 million unpaid caregivers

TUESDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias receive unpaid care worth more than $200 billion from nearly 15 million caregivers in the United States, according to "2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures," a report published March 15 by the Alzheimer's Association.

Carol J. Farran, D.N.Sc., and colleagues from the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, collected data on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias in the United States. The report provides current information on the prevalence and mortality of Alzheimer's disease, as well as assessing the impact of Alzheimer's on patients, their families, government, and the nation's health care system. The report also provides information about the benefits of early detection.

The report estimates that 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, 5.2 million of whom are over age 65. Patients over 65 survive an average of four to eight years with the disease, but can live up to 20 years. Mortality from Alzheimer's disease has increased by 66 percent from 2000 to 2008. Eighty percent of care for Alzheimer's patients in 2010 was given by nearly 15 million unpaid caregivers, who provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care, worth $202.6 billion. Unpaid caregivers report high levels of physical and emotional stress. Half of the people who satisfy the diagnostic criteria are not diagnosed with dementia. Delayed detection may deprive patients of potential benefits, and adds to the caregiver's burdens.

"Alzheimer's disease doesn't just affect those with it. It invades families and the lives of everyone around them," Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, said in a statement.

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