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



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