In Part 1 of a four-part series, we discuss family caregivers' critical role in the life of dementia patients and explore why they should be included in care planning. Check out Part 2 of the series on identifying and engaging family caregivers, Part 3 on direct-care workers, and Part 4 on the stated needs of family caregivers.
Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be life-altering. Among other challenges, it requires people to consider new ways to take care of everyday needs, including relying on others to complete activities of daily living (ADLs), like dressing, showering, driving, and shopping.
In the face of a dementia diagnosis, a person may not know where to turn for help. Creating an ecological map to identify a patient’s support network is an important early step to help them realize that they are not alone on this journey. Professional caregivers, such as home care or home health workers, are available. However, most ongoing support is provided by informal caregivers—family, friends, and neighbors who are typically not paid or professionally trained but step up to provide care.
In 2020, more than 7 million people aged 65 or older in the United States had dementia. That number is projected to double to 14 million by 2060, according to a 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the number of people with dementia increases in the United States and globally, so too will the need for informal or family caregivers.
In recognition of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month this November, we understand the critical role of the dementia caregiver and the need to include them in the care plan.