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Caregiving for Person with Alzheimer's Disease or a related Dementia

Younger woman holding hands with elderly woman

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of a group of brain diseases called dementias. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 40% to 75% of dementia cases. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal dementia.

Alzheimer's disease, like all dementias, gets worse over time and there is no known cure. As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease destroys brain cells causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior that can be severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies, and social life. Eventually, it can affect one's ability to carry out routine daily activities. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 years and older.

For more information, see www.alz.org.

What is known about caregiving for a person with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia?

People with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are usually cared for by family members or friends. The majority (80%) of people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are receiving care in their homes. Each year, 15 million Americans provide more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care for family and friends with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. More than six in ten (62%) caregivers were women, almost one in four (23%) were 65 years of age and older, and three in ten (30%) had children under 18 years old living with them.   

Caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and related dementias provide care for a longer duration than caregivers of people with other types of conditions. More than four in ten (43%) caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and related dementias provide care for one to four years, and more than three in ten (32%) are caregivers for five years or more. For other types of chronic conditions that require care, more than three in ten (33%) caregivers provide care for one to four years, and almost three in ten (28%) are caregivers for five years or more.  

The demands of caregiving can limit a caregiver’s ability to take care of themselves. Family caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and related dementias are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and poorer quality of life than caregivers of people with other conditions.  

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