Women…Carrying the Load

By Robert Elmer III on May 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

Chapter 8 of my book, “Join the Journey-Care for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver” opens with the reminder that, in spite of what we’ve been taught, “God cannot be everywhere and that’s why he created women.” Women have always been looked on as the one’s that nurture but I wonder how many of you are aware of how big a role they play in the world of Alzheimer’s disease. They are at the epicenter, as caregivers and sufferers.
There are over 15 million informal or unpaid caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s in this country alone and 30% of them will pre-decease those they are caring for. How many of you knew that 2/3rds of those caregivers are women? And that 1/3rd of them are daughters? Did you know that when women hit their 60’s they have a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease (it’s 1 in 11 for men) and that they are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than they are to develop breast cancer? I have to point out that my intention is not to slight men in any way as there are millions of them out there doing a spectacular job of informal caregiving. The facts are the facts and regardless if the reason is cultural or simply because they are more comfortable in the role, women are truly the ones that are “packing the gear” as formal and especially informal Alzheimer’s caregivers.
Researchers are hard at work looking for the reasons for the “why’s” of Alzheimer’s impact on women. Regardless if the cause was lifestyle, a genetic pre-disposition or some other unknown cause, ladies, you need to pay attention and put yourself in the Alzheimer’s learning curve sooner than later. It’s been said by most researchers that when you or I may notice some of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, in a friend or loved one, the pathology has been at work for over 10 to 15 years. How long one will live after an “official” diagnosis depends on a number of variables but anywhere from 2 to 20 years is the range you’ll hear. Considering that those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, men and women, decline slowly over time at their own pace, it’s impossible to be very specific.
I have been lecturing on this critical subject for years and in that time I have learned how important it is that everyone become familiar with this disease and develop a basic understanding of how to deal with it. More and more you hear of the demented individual that drove off in a car, of the very confused woman that walked into shop to try to buy something and the shopkeeper had no idea what was going on or maybe you’ve been to a party where another guest was glued to his mate and not very good company. Years ago, I learned of a potential resident for our dedicated community after a pizza delivery boy went to a home and the lady gave him a $50.00 tip. Yes, he was appreciative but refused the tip. The best part was, that although he was no expert, he recognized something was wrong, that this lady was vulnerable and he did something about it. I’m not suggesting we form an Alzheimer’s patrol but it would be great if we could all develop a basic understanding of this illness and know where to get help; for them and for their caregivers.
If we could all learn the basics of this illness and where educational and caregiving resources are for direct and indirect caregivers, it would go a long way to improve the quality of life of your loved one and you. Let me help. For starters, ALZ.ORG is the site for the Alzheimer’s Association and 800-272-3900 is the 24 hour Alzheimer’s Hot Line number. Please feel free to share.
Questions? email me at repe@careforcare.yabanjin.com. Remember, Join the Journey

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Robert Elmer IIIView all posts by Robert Elmer III