The High Cost of Caregiving for Alzheimer’s Disease
Gutierrez, Andrea P.
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Caregiving for Alzheimer’s Disease highly affects the well-being of caregivers financially, physically and emotionally. According to the most recent report by the Alzheimer’s Association, 10% more women than men in the United States are currently doing informal caregiving for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Women’s potential claim to economic benefits has been greatly limited by the role strain between reproductive work at home and the productive work in the public domain (Hooyman and Gonyea, 1995; Cruikshank, 2003). A woman who chooses to care for a loved one at home is often thought to be sacrificing her potential for financial income and independence, limiting her productivity as well as that of the economy (Estes, 2003). Financial, physical, and emotional costs of caregiving can be ameliorated with support from the community, coordination with formal services, as well as government assistance in the form of family friendly policies. Adequate services for the growing number of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease along with their caregivers will require an investment of time and resources to develop a health care system that establishes coordinated support and accessibility regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background. This literature review will bring together several studies that address current health care systems and support groups that attempt to provide care for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and alleviate the burdens of informal caregiving. This project explores the pathways by which access to adequate health care for Alzheimer’s patients is highly associated with income, gender, race, and ethnicity, and suggests ways that health care systems, that tend to be highly driven by short-term benefits, can attempt to invest more in long-term benefits through highly coordinated health care systems driven by a feminist approach that involves more integration of the private and public sectors.