Pittsburgh

‘They’re totally consumed’: Pennsylvania’s Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers need more help – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2021-09-08 09:48:38 –

Caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is a 24/7 job, and caregivers are mentally and physically exhausted.

Juliette Rihl, PublicSource

When Betty Kinter’s husband disappeared for the first time, he left Marie’s Building’s house, grabbed a trash can at the end of the driveway, and lost his way. Fortunately, neighbors found him sitting on the wall at the beginning of their housing development, picked him up, and took him home. “I was pretty hysterical,” Kinter recalled.

When he disappeared a second time, he was confused and thought someone was trying to kill him. He ran away from home for fear of his life. After about 45 minutes of searching, police found him hiding in a backyard hut.

In Pennsylvania, 500,000 people care for family and friends with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s disease research. Stress can be immeasurable for caregivers who are often unpaid, often fight their own health problems, and have little time for themselves.

Like many people with dementia, Kinter’s husband not only suffers from memory loss, but also symptoms such as disorientation, mood swings, and “sunset,” which means abnormal behavior such as evening delusions and hallucinations. I’m suffering. He sometimes throws her prepared meals in the trash can or asks him to be taken to his “other home”, but no such home exists. He has a clock and door alarm that keeps track of his movements, so Kinter can know when to get in and out. His temperament can change from one moment to the next, and she is constantly anxious, exhausted, and awaits the next. “It threatens your sanity,” she said. “I don’t know where, when, or how.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, care for people with dementia is done at the expense of the caregiver’s own mental and physical well-being. Nearly a quarter of unpaid Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in Pennsylvania report depression. Around the country, nearly 6 out of 10 caregivers rated the emotional stress of caregiving as “high or very high.” The pandemic, as expected, Caregiver mental health worsens..

Professional care services are expensive and many families prefer to keep their loved ones at home. That is, the duty of care is usually on family, friends, and most often women. NS State law passed in June Provide additional financial support to those caregivers. Still, resources remain thin.

Home-based dementia caregivers like Betty Quinter are almost always unpaid, often fight their health problems, and have little time for themselves. (Photo by Quinn Glabicki)

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