- 34.2 million adults in the U.S. provide unpaid care to adults over the age of 50.
- 85 percent of caregivers are caring for a relative.
- Only about half of caregivers get help from someone else, so half care for family completely on their own.
- More than 96 percent of caregivers are assisting with activities such as eating, bathing, dressing and moving.
- If family caregiver weren’t providing these services for free in the U.S., the government would have to come up with about $470 billion to cover the cost of services.
Duncan was a professional caregiver but also took care of his wife for six years until she passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s.
“I’m an advocate and I work practically every day on the subject,” Duncan said.
According to the World Health Organization, 18 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with Alheimer’s and that number is expected to double by 2025. Duncan stressed that Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease with no treatment available for remission or long-term memory recovery. Caregivers need for respite, Duncan said, and talked of a program he wanted to see created — a “rent-a-caregiver” program so for those who are the sole caregivers for loved ones can get a break.
Duncan also spoke on hospice care, reading the creed by Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement, “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”
Duncan took a stand against palliative care and drugging hospice patients with morphine. He instead advocated for helping those in hospice care live comfortably until they die, and to transfer their care to general practitioners after they have been in hospice the requisite time.
“I want to change the system to relieve palliative care,” Duncan said. “If you can keep the vitals going, you can keep the patient going.”
Loudoun County offers a variety of services for caregivers, including Adult Day Centers and an Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Support Group which meets at 20145 Ashbrook Place, Ashburn the third Saturday of every month at 10 a.m.