Alzheimer’s takes toll on families

    Given the choice, most seniors would prefer to remain in their own homes rather than relocate to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Family members work hard to honor those wishes.

    One quarter of adults are presently caring for an aging parent or relative, with close to half (45 percent) of this group providing care for their spouse. However, caring for a family member in the home is not always possible, particularly if the senior loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia for those over 65. Alzheimer’s is a disease marked by a steady decline in memory, resulting in loss of intellectual functions severe enough to interfere with everyday life. A person suffering from the disease may eventually require 24/7 care.

    Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association indicate that more than 5 million people in the U.S. are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 100,000 of these seniors live in the state of Wisconsin. That number is expected to increase by 10,000 by 2010.

    And sadly, every 72 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s.

    Although often in the prime of their careers, family members who care for their senior loved ones, are opting for early retirement, positions with lower level responsibilities, and reduced work hours. The impact on families and the economy is staggering. According to the national Alzheimer’s Association, the direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias amounts to more than $148 billion annually.

    As co-owner of Home Instead Senior Care, along with my husband, Steve, we’ve seen a dramatic rise over the years of families needing care for a senior loved one suffering from dementia. Too often, families turn to us in crisis. We’d like to let them know that what they’re experiencing isn’t uncommon, and that professional caregivers are available to help to emotionally deal with the challenges of a loved one with dementia.


    Jennifer Rayl is the co-Owner of Home Instead Senior Care, which has offices in Wauwatosa and Cedarburg. Additional information is available at


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