However, one demographic that is often overlooked are the caregivers who spend the majority of their time waiting on those with the disease. In fact, research estimates that every individual suffering from Alzheimer’s requires the care of at least one to four family members.
The Guardian reported on a testimonial of Chris King, a 25-year old man who is now the primary caregiver for his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She is one of 14,000 people under the age of 65 in the UK who suffer from early onset Alzheimer’s.
King compares the disease to “a burglar who keeps coming back, no matter how many security systems you put in place, taking more and more until there is nothing left.”
Because so little financial aid is offered to families who care for those with the disease — and sometimes none at all — many patients have been forced into hospitals. An estimated one in four hospital beds in the UK are occupied by dementia patients.
According to CNBC, Alzheimer’s isn’t the only affliction that’s putting caregivers in a bleak situation. While on a ski trip, 17-year-old Maggie Ornstein received terrible news that her mother, Janet Ornstein, had suffered a brain aneurysm. She was left with permanent brain damage and unable to care for herself.
Maggie was immediately forced into becoming her mother’s primary caregiver.
“It was two years before I took a day off from seeing her,” said Ornstein. Meanwhile, she also paid medical bills and coordinated her mother’s care.
But she is not alone. In the U.S., for instance, there are as many as 43.5 million adults working as unpaid caregivers for loved ones who suffer from a multitude of ailments.
Regardless of the condition affecting the ones they look after, these caretakers are stuck working to provide for themselves while simultaneously undertaking the full-time job of protecting their loved ones’ well-being.
Fortunately, organizations have begun taking notice and working to offer aid to those in need. Alzheimer’s charities and associations working with widespread diseases must put in extra time to help caregivers while also funding research into finding cures.
As the attention towards these conditions gains more exposure, the work put in to finding treatments will, as well. However, because the numbers of these cases are steadily rising, the effort to help will have to follow suit.