Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

The Big Picture:

In 2013, 15.5 million family members and friends provided 17.7 billion hours in unpaid care to individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – care valued at over $220 billion.

Source: 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.

Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving requires more time and lasts longer.

  • On average, caregivers for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias spend 23 hours per week providing care – and one in six spends 40 hours or more per week. This is longer than the average 16 hours per week spent by caregivers of those with other conditions.
  • More than one-fifth of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers has been providing care for longer than five years, and 70 percent have been providing care for more than one year.

Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving is more personal and intrusive.

  • Nearly 28 percent of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia need the most help with matters of “self care” – getting dressed, taking a shower and going to the bathroom, for example. That is true for just 16.2 percent of those with other conditions.
  • Another 29.6 percent of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias need the most help with household tasks.

 

 

2014_BRFSS_Caregiving_Data

Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving takes a heavy toll on the physical and emotional health of caregivers.

  • Those who care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia are 3.5 times more likely than caregivers of people with other conditions to say that the greatest difficulty associated with caregiving is that it creates or aggravates their own health problems.
  • For 31 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers, stress is the biggest problem with caregiving, compared with 23.7 percent of caregivers for those with other conditions.
  • While 37 percent of caregivers for those without Alzheimer’s and other dementias reported no difficulty associated with caregiving, only 20.7 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers reported no difficulty.

With Alzheimer’s and other dementias, it is mostly women caring for women – and many are also caring for children.

  • Of all people aged 60 and older receiving care, 10.7 percent have Alzheimer’s and other dementias – more than for any other condition except heart disease
  • Of those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, 65.4 percent are women.
  • Similarly, 65.7 percent of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias who are receiving unpaid care from a family member or friend are women.
  • Half of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are between the ages of 45 and 64.
  • More than one-third of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers also have a minor child in the home. 2014_BRFSS_Caregiving_Data 2

A Note about Comparisons:

In this survey data, 98 percent of care recipients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias were aged 65 and older; for care recipients with all other conditions, just 58 percent were aged 65 and older. Therefore, for comparison purposes, data for caregivers of those with conditions other than Alzheimer’s and dementia were limited to those caring for someone aged 60 and older.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS): 

The data presented here come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Caregiver Module, which was used in 2009 and 2010 by eight states (Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Tennessee) and the District of Columbia. The data have been weighted and aggregated across both years and all states. The BRFSS is a public health survey conducted each year by all states in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey collects information on the prevalence of disease, health risk factors, preventive health behaviors and health care access. The Caregiver Module is an optional set of 10 questions that asks about health problems of the care recipient, his or her care needs, and the impact of caregiving on daily living.

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