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New Alzheimer’s disease and dementia caregiver support group for Pine Island

October 4, 2018
Special to The Eagle ( , Pine Island Eagle

The newly released 2018 Alzheimer's Association Facts and Figures report indicates that 5.7 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's disease. In the state of Florida there are around 500,000 people with the disease. Every 65 seconds someone develops the Alzheimer's. In Lee County it is estimated that over 20,000 people have Alzheimer's disease or another dementia (Department of Elder Affairs, 2017).

Between 2000 and 2015 deaths from heart disease have decreased 11 percent. During that same time period, deaths from Alzheimer's disease have increased by 123 percent.

Caregiving can be an emotionally, physically and financially draining role. In 2017, 16 million family members and friends provided an estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer's or other dementias. That care had an estimated economic value of $232 billion. More than 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers are women. More specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters. About one in three caregivers (34 percent) is age 65 or older. Approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are "sandwich generation" caregivers - meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.

Alzheimer's takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial difficulties. In addition, being a caregiver can be and isolating experience.

"Caregivers need a place where they can feel safe, understood and supported," notes Amy Schenk, RN, MS Ed, Alzheimer's Association Program Director. "Having the opportunity to connect with others who are on the same journey, and learning from each other can be a very validating experience."

In collaboration with the Beacon of HOPE, a new Alzheimer's caregiver support group has been established to support caregivers here on Pine Island. The hope is that participants will find mutual support and also have the opportunity to develop social relationships.

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The next group meeting is Monday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m., and will continue every month.

The Beacon of HOPE Center of Excellence Classroom is located at 5090 Doug Taylor Circle, St. James City.

Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. Visit or call 800-272-3900.



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