As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, you or others in your family may find the changing roles tough to accept. It may become harder when roles change. When this happens, it can lead to some confusion about how to act. It sometimes takes a while to figure out just who will do what.
The family member with dementia usually becomes the family’s centre of attention. Energy is focused on this person. This can lead to other family members, including spouses or other children, feeling neglected. They may become resentful because they feel they are not getting the attention they need.
Some people have to take over everyday things, like chores, and they may feel burdened. The result can be that they may withdraw, avoiding family activities, or in the case of married people, they may end up getting divorced.
It is important to remember that different people react to the same situation in different ways. Some people will not be helpful and will put distance between them and the family. This is often because they feel they cannot cope with the changes.
However, some people who care for a family member with dementia find that their families experience a new kind of closeness, as they work together to deal with stressful situations. Some people even show strengths that they never knew they had. Care giving is a critical issue for people living with dementia and for Canadians in general.
- One in five Canadians aged 45 and older provides some form of care to seniors living with long-term health problems.
- A quarter of all family caregivers are seniors themselves; a third of them (more than 200,000) are older than 75.
- In 2011, family caregivers spent in excess of 444 million unpaid hours looking after someone with cognitive impairment, including dementia.
- This figure represents $11 billion in lost income and 227,760 full-time equivalent employees in the workforce.
- By 2040, family caregivers will spend a staggering 1.2 billion unpaid hours per year.
- The physical and psychological toll on family caregivers is considerable; up to 75 per cent will develop psychological illnesses; 15 to 32 per cent experience depression.
The impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias engulfs whole families, and affects far more than the half a million people living with the disease.
- 36% of Canadians know someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
- 17% of Canadians have someone with Alzheimer’s disease in their immediate family.
- 1 in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
- Women make up almost three-quarters of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease.
- In just 5 years, as much as 50% more Canadians and their families could be facing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared disease for Canadians as they age
- One-in-five Canadians age 45 and over are providing some form of care to seniors who have long-term health problems.
- Almost half the informal caregivers in Canada (43 per cent) are between 45 and 54, many balancing this role with job and family responsibilities.
- A quarter of all informal caregivers are seniors themselves, and a third of them – over 200,000 people – are over the age of 75.
- Family caregivers are the invisible and hidden backbone of the health and long-term care system in Canada contributing over $5 billion dollars of unpaid care.