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As the Number of People with Dementia Grows, So Does the Need for Caregiver Support.

Thursday September 17, 2015 - Jennifer Prell
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On August 25th, The Chicago Tribune reported a troubling statistic about the rapidly growing incidence of dementia. According to that story, researchers from Alzheimer’s Disease International have found “there are now nearly 47 million people living with dementia globally, up from 35 million in 2009.” If no cure, effective prevention or breakthrough treatment is developed, these numbers are likely to double every two decades.

 

If there are 47 million people living with dementia, just imagine how many global caregivers there are. Whether they are spouses, children, siblings or friends, non-professional caregivers bear weighty responsibilities. While the role of a caregiver can be rewarding, it is indisputably difficult. Forty-seven million people living with dementia means there are likely more than 47 million people struggling to care for their loved ones and cope themselves, as well as a large number of older adults who are trying to survive without a caregiver.

 

Chicagoans don't just need to "adopt legislation to ensure better treatment for people with the disease," as the article says. We also need to explore ways to offer more support to the many caregivers impacted.

 

There are many ways communities can become more accommodating to the needs of an ever-growing population of caregivers. For example, local businesses should consider offering special discounts to caregivers to show our appreciation for their hard work that typically goes uncompensated. Employers can improve flex time and paid leave benefits to include caring for family members of any age. Counseling and mental health professionals should consider specialized services to better meet the needs of family caregivers. And perhaps most importantly, community organizations should make caregiver support groups more readily available.

 

For more support:

If you’re a caregiver yourself or know someone who could use extra support, consider our Dealing with Dementia support and resource group, which meets from 5:00 to 6:00 pm on the first Wednesday of every month. A support group can offer new perspectives and strategies for dealing with the daily challenges of caregiving, and important information to help you and your loved one. If you have specific questions about the programming and services CMSS offers to the Chicagoland community, feel free to contact CMSS’ Tricia Mullin by phone or email at 773-596-2296 or Mullin@cmsschicago.org.