Thousands of Oregonians are caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and their own health and well-being are often put on the back burner.
PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and it takes nearly double that number of people to care for it. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 11 million people in the United States provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
In Oregon, more than 130,000 family caregivers carry the burden of Alzheimer’s disease. In Washington, it is more than double with 297,000 people.
Dr. Drew Oliveira, family physician and senior executive medical director at Oregon’s Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, said caregiver health and wellbeing often gets put on the back burner.
“It’s stressful and caregivers report an incidence of depression of about 20%. Many of them have physical health problems themselves. More than half of them have a chronic condition that they also have to manage,” said Dr. Oliveira. “And when you take care of someone else, you don’t necessarily take care of yourself and you become overwhelmed. So this caregiver really needs to ask for help.
RELATED: 1st Human Trial of Nasal Alzheimer’s Vaccine to Begin
As our population continues to age, Dr. Oliveira says support really needs to come from across the community. This includes family and friends of not only the person with dementia, but also caregivers.
“If you know someone who is a caregiver, see what you can do to help them. Maybe it’s not about taking care of them directly, but maybe I’ll go shopping for you, I’ll mow your lawn for you, I’ll take some things off your plate. – maybe give you a break so you can take care of yourself,” he said.
There are also resources in the community to support caregivers at all times. The Alzheimer’s Association is a good place to start, and the Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter offers local support groups, programs, and referrals to help you and your loved one through a diagnosis. of Alzheimer’s.
RELATED: New research from Oregon State University could help people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s