In one of our recent newsletters, I talked about the risk of elder financial abuse. One of the reasons this has become such a problem is the scourge of Dementia.
The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular (post-stroke) dementia, with Alzheimer’s at 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. There is no current treatment to slow or stop this mental deterioration.
Currently 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, the vast majority of which are elder persons. Some 13% of elder persons have Alzheimer’s and by 2050, this number could quadruple to 19 million.
Almost 11 million Americans provide unpaid care to a person with dementia, usually to a family member. In 2009, the average time spent providing care was 21.9 hours per week, and the amount of hours increases as the disease worsens. Some family caregivers provide supervision and help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, due to safety concerns.
Almost half of family caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high. Many have symptoms of depression and disproportionately rate their health as poor, believing caregiving has made their own health worse.
Family caregivers often have difficulty at work. Many arrive at work late, leave early, or take time off. They take leaves of absence, reduce their hours, take lower positions, or even quit or retire early. The recent economic downturn has aggravated these work-related problems for caregivers.
Two-thirds of these caregivers have difficulty paying for their own needs and saving for their own retirement.
These economic factors place extraordinary pressure on younger generations, and lead to temptation to engage in elder financial abuse, which I’ll discuss further in a later newsletter.
If this situation sounds familiar to you or someone you know, call our office for assistance.