A family caregiver is worth a million

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010


According to the Alzheimer’s Association Web site, it is estimated that as many as five million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That includes 13 percent over the age of 65 and nearly 50 percent who are 85 and older.

Erie County Serving Our Seniors’ research has identified 124 individuals in the 65-75-age bracket caring for a loved one with memory impairment.

Figuring out what it takes to sustain the physical and emotional energy of family caregivers is worth millions, when you consider the alternative -- the cost of nursing home care for everyone in the United States suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder.

I recently discovered there is a study taking place to identify ways to help family caregivers. If you are caring for a friend or relative who is still living at home and experiencing mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (or other type of memory impairment) you need to know about this!  

It’s called The Caregiver Knowledge & Skills Project. It’s a research study being conducted by The University Memory & Aging Center of Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

By participating in the study the family/friend who is the caregiver will:

- Take part with other caregivers from Erie County in six two-hour workshops (one per week for six weeks) designed to provide knowledge and skills for the family caregivers.

- Read materials and practice what is learned in between the weekly workshops.

- Take part in an eight-month follow-up program (either by mail or computer). This is designed to enhance the benefits of the workshop. The type of follow up will be determined randomly.

- Answer questions by mail four times over the course of the study about their well-being and their experiences with attitudes toward care giving.

- Be asked the caregiver's opinion about the workshop and follow-up program when the study is completed.

There is no cost to participate in the Caregiver Knowledge & Skills Project.

Knowledge and skills are really powerful tools for coping with the demands and the frustrations associated with caregiving.

I want to encourage anyone in this situation to call me.

This is an opportunity to help yourself, the person you are caring for and others who may be walking in your shoes in the future.

For more information call me at 419-624-1856 or 800-564-1856.



Nobody knows what it is like for the person caring for a family member with Alzheimer's Disease. I wish this was around 5 years ago. My grandfather cared for my grandmother at home. We all said he was a saint. He told us, that if we knew how angry and frustrated he became sometimes while caring for my grandmother, we wouldn't say that about him. I say he did the best he could with what he knew to do.

I could never care for someone in her condition 7 days a week. I still think he was amazing.

Oliver Hardy

Miss Sue,

This is a very good topic. Caregivers have to make a lot of sacrifices in both time and money. From having been a caregiver in the past for a parent with dementia, things never get better and only get worse as time goes on. Burnout to a caregiver is very common. I don't believe that the government or Medicaid even cares about the sacrifices that caregivers put forth to keep a person with Alzheimers or dementia out of the nursing home. I have no idea at this point of time what a nursing home costs but it has to be in the area of about $70,000 per year. Caregivers actually help the government and Medicaid by keeping the elderly out of nursing homes. Once the money of an elderly parent is gone or is not enough by the end of the month, the caregiver has to dig into their own pocket to make up the difference.

I can understand some dementia caused by strokes or old age but I really don't have a handle on Alzheimers. Some say that Alzheimers is caused by aluminum. If this is true, why is aluminum added to some vaccines? I do believe that dementia can be helped or prevented by using the brain and mind. That saying "use it or lose it" has some merit to it. From my observations, many elderly people stop using their brain to think and rely too much on television as they get older. Also lack of proper nutrition or lack of a certain vitamin can cause dementia. Certain prescription medications can also cause problems that mimic dementia or Alzheimers. How many of these millions of people with Alzheimers don't really have Alzheimers? Could it be that lack of mind stimulation, prescription medications or lack of certain nutrients could be to blame in some of these people with Alzheimers or dementia?