Lecture – The Devastating Impact of Alzheimer’s Dementia on Caregivers

Available with English captions.

Presented by Brent P. Forester, MD, MSc, McLean Hospital, and Liz McCarthy, Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter – McLean Forum lecture

Recent studies by the Alzheimer’s Association show that Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly six million people in the U.S. It is the sixth-leading cause of death.

Caregivers play a crucial role in helping those with the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that about 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Their work adds up to some $18.5 billion in care annually.

“Being a long-term caregiver is like running a marathon,” says caregiver Jerry Murphy. Based on his experience aiding his wife Suzanne, who has Alzheimer’s disease, Murphy states, “Nobody would seriously run a marathon without building a certain set of skills—both emotional and physical skills.”

This presentation examines the emotional and physical impact of the condition on patients and the spouses, siblings, children, and others who care for them. Hosted by McLean’s Brent P. Forester, MD, MSc, and Liz McCarthy of the Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, this moderated discussion explores all aspects of the caregiver experience.

Watch now to see:

  • An examination of the financial, time, and physical impact on caregivers, from the perspective of two individuals who manage the medical and emotional needs of their loved ones every day
  • A broad overview of Alzheimer’s disease, grounding the discussion in the science behind the disease
  • A review of the many resources available to families, including those offered through the Alzheimer’s Association

During the presentation, Jerry Murphy and fellow caregiver Liz Gross share their stories about caring for an individual with dementia. They discuss their personal struggles. They also relay their strategies for navigating the time management and financial challenges of the work.

Murphy and Gross discuss the importance of seeking support for their efforts. They stress taking advantage of the many resources available through groups like the Alzheimer’s Association.

In addition to sharing personal stories, the talk features a discussion of the symptoms and diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease. Early detection is crucial to managing the disease, yet the Alzheimer’s Association reports that only 16% of seniors say they receive regular cognitive tests. The speakers urge that we expand screening, improve treatments, and provide greater access to supports and services.

In all, the presentation offers a thorough look at the impact of Alzheimer’s and other dementias on caregivers and the ones they take care of. By combining deeply personal stories with a wealth of practical advice, the talk helps caregivers and others involved in dementia care prepare for the marathon ahead.