(CBS 3) — The number of Americans taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease is skyrocketing. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has the details.
Nearly 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Many are living as long as 20 years with the condition, putting increased pressure on family members and friends.
Russell Patterson left his full time job for another job he never expected. He now takes care of his 77-year-old mother Edith, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
“I had my own life. I had an apartment in Manhattan. I knew something had to be done,” said Russell. He is one of an estimated fifteen million Americans now caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, 37 percent more than reported last year.
“They’re friends and family that are giving up their time, that are giving up many hours and actually donating more than 17 billion hours to caring for people with AD,” said Dr. Maria Carrillo, with the Alzheimer’s Association.
Alzheimer’s targets the brain, impairing memory, thinking and behavior. A person’s ability to speak, walk or even eat can eventually fail.
The new report from the Alzheimer’s Association also highlights the toll the disease can take on the caregiver.
“People caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease report a very high level of stress and actually, over a third of them report living with depression,” said Dr. Carrillo.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple by the year 2050.
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Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3