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Honoring 16 million+ Alzheimer’s caregivers

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Jim Herlihy, Senior Marketing & Communications Director
(720) 699-9286 or
Honoring 16 million+ Alzheimer’s caregivers

November is a time to publicly honor the millions of Americans who perform a very private and selfless act: caring for the nearly 6 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s disease.

More than 16 million people – an estimated 5% of the U.S. population – are currently serving as volunteer, unpaid caregivers for their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease. And November is a special month to honor this unique, dedicated group of people. Originally designated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, it later was expanded by President Bill Clinton to honor our nation’s caregivers: National Family Caregivers Month.

“Many of these people don’t even consider themselves to be caregivers,” said Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. “That’s my mom…that’s my husband…that’s my friend… Caregivers act out of love and loyalty for this special person and give of themselves without expecting anything in return. The act of giving is its own reward.”

The enormous impact of caregiving

While caregiving is an individual act, often given by the hour or the day, the collective impact is enormous.

  • Nearly 22 hours per week: In 2019, volunteer caregivers in the U.S. provided an estimated 21.9 hours per week each of unpaid care for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease.
    • An average of 21.9 hours of care per caregiver per week. That equaled 18.6 billion hours across the U.S. in 2019.
      • In Colorado, 256,000 caregivers provided 292 million hours of unpaid care in 2019.
  • More than $11,000 per year: Volunteer caregivers give more than their time. On average, in 2019 dementia caregivers reported spending $11,372 each for medical, personal care and household expenses for the person with dementia.
  • 4 years or more: more than half (57%) of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias have provided care for 4 or more years. Some provide care for up to 20 years.
  • Double duty: One in four caregivers report they are “sandwich generation” caregivers, meaning they care for children under age 18 as well as an aging parent.

“There is much more than meets the eye to being a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Schafer. “For many, it is putting the person they love ahead of themselves.”

In fact, a Stanford University study reported that caregivers have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers, and 40% of Alzheimer’s caregivers die from stress-related disorders before the person for whom they are caring.

Caring for caregivers

Perhaps the greatest source of support available to Alzheimer’s caregivers is other caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association offers scores of support groups around the state to help these individuals get advice, counsel and a friendly ear from people like themselves who are living the challenge of caregiving.

For more information about monthly support groups, call the Alzheimer’s Association free 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 or go to, click on Alzheimer’s Association Programs and Events, and then on Support Groups.

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