Let's just stop here and think about that for a moment. EIGHT TIMES THE REVENUE OF McDONALDS. And guess what? People that work at MickyD's are paid slightly more than minimum wage. Caregivers do all that work for NO WAGE AT ALL.
17.7 BILLION HOURS OF CARE FOR NO WAGE AT ALL.
Caregiving for parents with Alzheimer's is a 24/7 proposition. Down time is almost nonexistent, even if you aren't actively "doing something" to give care, your mind is working frantically thinking about all the things you need to accomplish and are now responsible for.
Someone in my support group put it this way - it's like having two bodies with one brain. You have the responsibility of dealing with your own needs, plus doing the thinking for your loved one who can no longer think for themselves.
And how about this ladies...More than 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers are women. The lucky caregivers are those that have the help and support of a spouse or child that will lend a hand where needed.
All caregivers of people with Alzheimer's – both women and men – face a devastating toll. Due to the physical and emotional burden of caregiving, Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers had $9.3 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2013. More than one-third report symptoms of depression.
AND IT WILL ONLY GET MORE WIDE SPREAD
The numbers are there...by 2025, nearly half the people over age 80 will develop Alzheimer's. Every one of those people will need at least one full-time caregiver.
Monetarily this is a daunting thought. The emotional and physical demands will be just as devastating.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Immediately, if you know someone who is a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's, find a way to give them support. Prepare and take them a meal. Ask if you can sit with their loved one while they go get their hair done or do some personal errands. Offer to do their grocery shopping. Sometimes the best offer is to simply go visit and offer moral support.
One a higher level, we can all work to fund research to find a cure for Alzheimer's. Tell your government officials that you want them to do all they can to support the research with our tax dollars. Donate to the Alzheimer's Association's funds for research into finding a cure.
If we can find a cure, the need for caregiving would disappear. How wonderful would that be?