Alzheimer’s caregivers: Who they are and what they do

Learn more about Alzheimer’s caregivers1

One study estimated that there were about 43.5 million caregivers in the United States in 2009, which at the time was about 19% of the adult population. Today, more than 15 million people in the United States provide care for people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

So, who are these Alzheimer’s caregivers? What do they do and what impact do they have? Taking a close look at the numbers reveals some interesting things about the types of people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and their value to society.

Demographics of Alzheimer’s caregiving2

Alzheimer's caregivers come from all walks of life. Understanding the demographics can help show that you are not alone as an Alzheimer's caregiver.

Caregiver Demographics

The role of caregivers1

The tasks caregivers perform vary from person to person, but some of the most common ones are:

  • Helping with everyday activities, such as chores, shopping, meal preparation, and transportation
  • Making sure a loved one takes his or her medications as directed
  • Assisting with tasks, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and eating
  • Managing behavioral symptoms, such as agitation, aggressiveness, and wandering

The value of Alzheimer’s caregiving1-4

There are many Alzheimer’s caregivers in the United States, performing numerous essential tasks, usually for more than 20 hours per week. Add it all up, and the economic value of the free care provided by caregivers is staggering.

A report by the Alzheimer’s Association estimated that in 2012, caregivers provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care, which would be valued at more than $216 billion. To put that number in perspective, that is:

revenue comparison

What does all this mean?

There are several ways to interpret this information, but the most important conclusion may be to understand how valuable caregivers really are. They do an immense amount of work per year, which in total is worth more than the revenue of major companies like Starbucks and IBM. They do this work while often working full-time jobs on the side. And they do it all for free.

Maybe the biggest takeaway is to know that what caregivers do for their loved one is extremely valuable and important to society.

Support for Alzheimer’s caregivers 

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About Good Thinking

Good Thinking is for caregivers like you, supporting you as you face the daily challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. We’re here to provide information and inspiration to help you take care of yourself and enhance the care you give every day.