This isn't a commentary or diary so much as a kind of long comment that I thought contained a reference worth bringing to the attention of others. From a recent Daily Kos diary,1 the following:
University of Michigan: Study shows real social costs of caring for cognitively impaired elders
March 22, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The real social costs of cognitive impairments among the elderly are being greatly underestimated without counting care given to older Americans who have not yet reached the diagnostic threshold for dementia.
That is the central finding of a University of Michigan study published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study is based on data from 169 primary family caregivers of individuals with dementia or cognitive impairment. The sample is part of the Aging, Demographics and Memory study, which examined a nationally representative sample of men and women age 70 and older as a supplement to the U-M Health and Retirement Study, funded primarily by the National Institute on Aging.
"We were surprised to learn how much time family members spend caring for loved ones who have some cognitive impairment, but whose impairments are not severe enough to be classified as dementia," said Gwenith Fisher, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). "These caregivers are dealing with many of the burdens of caring for an older, cognitively impaired family member, but they may not be eligible for much of the help available unless the diagnosis is dementia."
Having lived through this,2 it's good to see that studies are now focusing on the overall costs. The takeaway line that caught my attention?
"These caregivers are dealing with many of the burdens of caring for an older, cognitively impaired family member, but they may not be eligible for much of the help available unless the diagnosis is dementia."
Yes. "Unless" and "Until" - and sometimes even afterward.
The costs of caring can be significant - but, that's part and parcel of what it really means to care, isn't it?3
I don't regret it.
Footnote references over the fold.