The effects of Alzheimer’s on family

Posted under Blog on September 5th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A recent MSNBC report illustrated the striking effects that Alzheimer’s has upon families. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s diseases and facing up to the fact that no cure currently exists. Marking the beginning of National Alzheimer’s Month, the US station has launched a series of special reports focussing on the disease. Greater awareness and funding is essential to the progress of research in the area. Estimates from the National Institute of Health state that the US government will spend $562 million on Alzheimer’s research – a relatively low figure in comparison with the $3 billion on HIV/AIDS and the $5.7 billion to be spent fighting cancer. Yet Alzheimer’s is costing the US government $203 billion dollars annually. Beyond this, the emotional toll on individuals and their families is immeasurable. Susan Harvell was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at just 52 years old, leaving her family devastated. Dave Baker, her primary caregiver, said that “Alzheimer’s pretty much affects a family in every way that there is.” Maria Shriver helped care for her father throughout his time battling the disease. She commented that a once “idealist, intelligent, optimistic public servant” was left without the capacity to remember her name or who she was. “That’s the heartbreak and reality of Alzheimer’s” she said. With Alzheimer’s as the sixth leading cause of death in the US, the need for research and funding is evident.

Tags: carers, Early onset Alzheimer's, government spending

Combating the pain of Alzheimer’s with the comfort of home

Posted under Blog on July 5th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

The vital role that unpaid carers play in coping with the burden of Alzheimer’s has been highlighted in a recent article on Bloomberg which tells the story of Diane Bradshaw, who cared for husband Arnold following his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Diane has written a soon to be published book, I am Arnold, describing her husband’s experience with the condition, and hers as a carer. 

Diane spent six years caring for Arnold following his diagnosis. He was offered hospital care funded by the Veterans Administration, but the couple decided that they wanted him to remain at home.  As Arnold’s health deteriorated and he suffered serious infections and a heart attack, he spent more and more time in hospital but always returned home to Diane’s care.

Diane spent thousands of dollars on alterations to the couple’s home to enable her husband to be cared for at home and devoted much of her time to looking after him. This was a labor of love, but crucially, she was able to pay for 14 hours of nursing care a week which gave her a break from being a full-time carer, and some free time to spend with her daughter one day a week.

Diane cared for Arnold for six years as his condition deteriorated. He eventually died peacefully at home in 2010. Her account shows that the role of family and friends in caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is vital, but raises the wider question of the impact of being a carer. A person may be thrust into a situation with little or no training and have to learn the role of carer as they go.

Carers like Diane in the US carry out billions of hours of unpaid work caring for loved ones.  It is estimated that the cost of treating and caring for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients in the US ($200bn per year) is half of what it would otherwise be were these carers not around.

The Alzheimer's Association predicts that cases of Alzheimer’s in the US will increase from an estimated 411,000 in the year 2000, to 959,000 by 2050. This means that Alzheimer’s and dementia are set to be an increasing burden on healthcare services for the foreseeable future, and the role of unpaid carers will become more vital than ever.

It’s very important to recognize the benefits of home care versus institutional care and the strains that both can place upon a person with Alzheimer’s, and those who care for them. Your doctor can give you advice on the merits of care, and details of support services which may be available.

Tags: care, carers, support for carers, unpaid carers, veterans

A memory for music

Posted under Blog on January 3rd, 2012 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Many people know all too well the devastating effect that dementia can have on the brain, yet it has been found that our memory for music appears to remain undiminished.

Singing for the Brain is a choir run by the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK for people with dementia and their carers. The weekly sessions see even the most seriously affected individuals singing along merrily to tunes of their youth. It seems that music also allows individuals to demonstrate a capacity to remember and learn through increased responses, retention of new lyrics and the creation of new relationships.

Ms  Jill Dean, Singing for the Brain, Regional Leader, recently told The Times ‘’We did ‘If You Were the Only Girl in the World’ and there was a couple singing it looking into each other’s eyes, giggling and holding hands, and the rest of the room were dissolving into tears’.”

For more information, visit the Alzheimer's Society.



Tags: Alzheimer's, carers, dementia, memory, music, singing for the brain



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