November is National Caregivers Month

November is a time to publicly honor the millions of Americans who perform a very private and
selfless act: caring for more than 6 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 11.2 million people – an estimated 3.3% of the U.S. population – are currently
serving as volunteer, unpaid caregivers for their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease. And
November is a special month to honor this unique, dedicated group of people. Originally
designated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan in
1983, it later was expanded by President Bill Clinton to honor our nation’s caregivers: National
Family Caregivers Month.


“Many of these people don’t even consider themselves to be caregivers,” said Jeff Bird,
executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. “That’s my mom…that’s my
husband…that’s my friend… Caregivers act out of love and loyalty for this special person and
give of themselves without expecting anything in return. The act of giving is its own reward.”


The enormous impact of caregiving

While caregiving is an individual act, often given by the hour or the day, the collective impact is
enormous.
• More than 26 hours per week: In 2020, volunteer caregivers in the U.S. provided an
estimated 26.3 hours per week each of unpaid care for a loved one living with
Alzheimer’s disease.
o The average caregiver provided 1,369 hours of care per year. That equaled
15.3 billion hours across the U.S. in 2020.
▪ In Colorado, 158,000 caregivers provided 184 million hours of unpaid
care in 2020.
• More than $11,000 per year: Volunteer caregivers give more than their time. On
average, in 2020 dementia caregivers reported spending $11,535 each for medical,
personal care and household expenses for the person with dementia.
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• 4 years or more: more than half (57%) of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s
or other dementias have provided care for 4 or more years. Some provide care for up
to 20 years.
• Double duty: One in four caregivers report they are “sandwich generation” caregivers,
meaning they care for children under age 18 as well as an aging parent.

“There is much more than meets the eye to being a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s
disease,” said Bird. “For many, it is putting the person they love ahead of themselves.”
In fact, one research study reported that 74% of caregivers were “somewhat concerned” to
“very concerned” about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver. A 2017 poll
found that 27% of dementia caregivers delayed or did not do things they should in order to
maintain their own health. And 18% of Alzheimer’s caregivers die before the person for whom
they are caring.


Big numbers

While caregivers often act individually or in a small team, when you add up the numbers, the
totals are staggering: based on an average value of $12.64 per hour, the 15.3 billion hours of
unpaid Alzheimer’s care provided in 2020 was valued at $256.7 billion – more than 13 times
the total revenue of McDonald’s ($19.21 billion).


Caring for caregivers

Perhaps the greatest source of support available to Alzheimer’s caregivers is other caregivers.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers scores of support groups around the state to help these
individuals get advice, counsel and a friendly ear from people like themselves who are living
the challenge of caregiving.


To register, or for more information about monthly support groups, call the Alzheimer’s Association free
24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 or go to www.alz.org/crf, click on Alzheimer’s Association Programs and
Events, and then on Support Groups.

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The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado is the premier source of information and support for the more than 76,000
Coloradans with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association offers information,
educational programs, counseling and support groups at no cost to families. Contributions help fund advancements
in research to prevent, treat and eventually conquer this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association advocates for those
living with Alzheimer’s and their families on related legislative issues, and with health and long-term care providers.
For information call the Alzheimer’s Association free 24/7 bilingual Helpline at 800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org.

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