Call for More Research Funding and Caregiver Support
Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 2:55 pm
Walk to End Alzheimer's • Oct. 15
The Mid South Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association is gearing up for the 2016 Walk to End Alzheimer's - Nashville. The two-mile walk begins at Walk of Fame Park at 121 4th Ave. S. Registration opens at 7:30 am, ceremony at 8:30 am, and the walk begins at 9 am.
At press time, almost $250,000 had already been raised, led by the Brookdale Senior Living team. TriStar Centennial Parthenon Pavilion and Richland Place round out the top three fundraisers at this point.
For more information, to register or make a donation, go to alz.org/altn and click on Walk to End Alzheimer's from the menu on the left. In addition to the Nashville event, Rutherford County is hosting their walk on Oct. 29.
The Alzheimer's Association's Mid South Chapter recently hosted their annual fall caregiver conference in Middle Tennessee.
There were 171 area caregivers in attendance who heard information on topics related to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias including behaviors, family dynamics, paying for care and research. Kimberly Williams-Paisley, actress, author and advocate for dementia research and caregivers and Keith Fargo, PhD, director of scientific programs and outreach from the Alzheimer's Association were guest speakers.
"The Alzheimer's Association has many tools at alz.org to not only support family caregivers, but also professional caregivers," said Tiffany Cloud-Mann, vice president of programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association. "The Association wants to work hand-in-hand with professionals in the dementia field to encourage early and accurate diagnosing, care planning and ongoing support."
The web-based resource for healthcare professionals includes information on a free pocketcard app and online portal, Health Care Professionals e-news subscription, and a form to request the free Alzheimer's Association referral pad, which can be given to those diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers.
Caring for the Caregiver
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds the demand for family caregivers for adults who are 65 or older is increasing significantly, and family caregivers need more recognition, information, and support to fulfill their responsibilities and maintain their own health, financial security, and well-being.
Although caregivers' individual circumstances vary, family caregiving can negatively affect caregivers' mental and physical health as well cause economic harm, including loss of income and career opportunities. The report calls for healthcare delivery system reform that elevates family-centered care alongside person-centered care to better account for the roles of family caregivers and support their involvement in the care delivery process.
The committee that carried out the study and wrote the report found that by 2030, 72.8 million U.S. residents - more than 1 in 5 - will be 65 or older. According to the National Survey of Caregivers, in 2011, 17.7 million people - or approximately 7.7 percent of the total U.S. population aged 20 and older - were caregivers of an older adult because of health problems or functional impairments. This estimate does not include caregivers of nursing home residents.
Furthermore, for most family caregivers, it is not a short-term obligation. Five years is the median number of years of family care for older adults with high needs. The proportion of older adults who are most likely to need intensive support from family caregivers - those in their 80s and beyond - is projected to climb from 27 percent in 2012 to 37 percent in 2050. Yet, little action has been taken to prepare the healthcare and social service systems for this demographic shift, the committee said.
While the need for caregiving is rapidly increasing, the number of the potential family caregivers is shrinking. Current trends in family patterns - including lower fertility, higher rates of childlessness, and increases in divorced and never-married statuses - suggest a shrinking pool of potential caregivers in the near future. Unlike in the past, older adults will have fewer family members to rely on, more likely will be unmarried or divorced and living alone, and might be geographically more distant from their children
The report recommends the next presidential administration take immediate steps to address the health, economic, and social issues facing family caregivers of older Americans. The committee said the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with other federal agencies and private-sector organizations, should develop and execute a National Family Caregiver Strategy that recognizes the essential role of family caregivers to the well-being of older adults. The committee also recognized that most state governments have yet to address the health, economic, and social challenges of caregiving for older adults, and it recommended that state governments should learn from the experience of states with caregiver supports and implement similar programs.