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Eagle Valley Senior Life focuses on caregiver’s dilemma

Enterprise staff report

Growing older is the better of two alternatives that every living being faces.

But the aging process does present challenges.

Eagle Valley Senior Life executive director Wendy Miller is putting together a program called The Caregiver’s Dilemma during the first half of May, in honor of National Older Americans Month. The plan is to have an altitude specialist; elder law attorney; mental health professional and a social worker at the program.

“When I tell people what I do, I often hear about people trying to care for parent(s), either from afar or in same location,” said Miller. “They struggle with decisions about whether to bring the parent here, and if they do, what services are available here.”

Miller said at the advocating from a distance is also difficult.

“There isn’t one solution and every family is different,“ she said.

Typically, Baby Boomers aren’t as willing to pick up and move — particularly when many of them have been in a location most of their adult life.

“We are slowly getting more services and resources, which will help,” said Miller.

Later this year, the Castle Peak Senior Care facility is slated to break ground in Eagle, to provide assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care housing options for seniors. Eagle County is also leading a strategic planning initiative around Aging Well in the Valley, similar to a Pitkin County effort, with the goal being a more strategic, collaborative and coordinated plan for addressing the needs of the aging population.

As Older Americans Month approaches, there are some key statistics to consider:

Based on 2012 estimates provided by the Colorado State Demographer’s Office through the Department of Local Affairs, Eagle County had 4,289 residents age 65 and older, which is expected to increase to 7,771 in year 2020. Data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project indicates that one in 9 Americans age 65 and older (11 percent) has Alzheimer disease. Statistically, that means the potential that 476 individuals currently in Eagle County have Alzheimer disease and an estimated 863 of our residents will suffer from Alzheimer’s in year 2020.

65.7 million caregivers make up 29 percent of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP 2009, Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, D.C – Updated: Nov. 2012

52 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18-plus) with a disability or illness. Coughlin, J., (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management, Vol. 2; Issue 1 – Updated: Nov. 2012

43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50-plus years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Alzheimer’s Association, 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s and Dementia , Vol.7, Issue 2.

The value of unpaid family caregivers will likely continue to be the largest source of long-term care services in the U.S., and the aging population 65-plus will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000. Coughlin, J., (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management, Vol. 2; Issue 1 – Updated: Nov. 2012

The majority of caregivers (55 percent) in the Gallup study reported they had provided care for three years or more.

Many caregivers of older people are themselves growing older. Of those caring for someone aged 65-plus, the average age is 63 years with one third of these caregivers in fair to poor health. Administration on Aging, NFCSP: Complete Resource Guide, 2005 – Updated: Nov. 2012

The percentage of caregivers caring for individuals over 85 years of age has increased across all three of the national surveys of informal caregivers conducted by National Alliance for Caregiving in the U.S. and AARP, in 1997, 2004, 2009. Parent care continues to be the primary caregiving situation for mid-life caregivers with 70 percent of the caregivers between the ages of 50 and 64.

The close relationship between the caregiver and care recipient is a shared relationship with involved emotions, experiences, and memories, which can place a caregiver at higher risk for psychological and physical illness. Alzheimer’s Association, 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s and Dementia , Vol.7, Issue 2. – Updated: Nov. 2012

Caregivers suffer loss of wages, health insurance and other job benefits, retirement saving or investing, and Social Security benefits — losses that hold serious consequences for the “career caregiver.” A reported 37 percent of caregivers quit their jobs or reduced their work hours to care for someone 50-plus in 2007.

10 million caregivers over age 50 who care for their parents lose an estimated $3 trillion in lost wages, pensions, retirement funds and benefits. The total costs are higher for women who lose an estimated $324,044 due to caregiving, compared to men at $283,716. Lost wages for women who leave the work force early because of caregiving responsibilities equals $142,693, and for lost Social Security benefits an estimated $131,351, and pensions an estimated $50,000. MetLife Mature Market Group. (June 2010) and National Alliance for Caregiving, Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Costs: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for their Parents – Updated: Nov. 2012

Measured by duration of care Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers provide care on average one to four years more than caregivers caring for someone with an illness other than Alzheimer’s disease (43 percent vs. 33 percent). They are also more likely to be providing care for five years or longer (32 percent vs. 28 percent).

While researchers have long known that caregiving can have negative mental health effects for caregivers, research shows that caregiving can have serious physical health consequences as well — 17 percent of caregivers feel their health in general has gotten worse as a result of their caregiving responsibilities. AARP Public Policy Institute Valuing the Invaluable: 2008 Update. The Economic Value of Family Caregiving – Updated: Nov. 2012

40 percent to 70 percent of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with about a quarter to half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Zarit, S. (2006) Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective in Family Caregiver Alliance (Eds.), Caregiver Assessment: Voices and Views from the Field. Report from a National Consensus Development Conference (Vol. II) (pp. 12-37). San Francisco: Family Caregiver Alliance — Updated: Nov. 2012

Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life. Elissa S. Epel, Dept of Psychiatry, Univ of Calif, SF, et al, From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dec 7, 2004, Vol 101, No. 49.

Watch the Free Enterprise for more information about the May Caregiver’s Dilemma program. For more information about Eagle Valley Senior Life, visit http://www.evslife.org.


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