Bearing The Alzheimer’s Burden

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(NBC News) — Women have a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease compared to one out of 11 men, and they’re not only more likely to be diagnosed with the mind-robbing condition. They’re also more likely to take on the role of caregiver to those affected.

Alzheimer’s has left 66-year-old John Wallace a fraction of the man he used to be.

“When you’re in your mid-50s, you’re looking at retirement, and what’s going to happen after you retire. John and I a whole plan. And all of a sudden, that was not going to happen,” says his wife, Angie Carrillo.

Angie is one of the more than 15-million people in the United States caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease.

It’s a demanding job, both physically and emotionally, especially for women.

They comprise up to 70% of those caregivers according to a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Women actually report that they are more likely to suffer from depression and stress than men in their care-giving role,” notes the Association’s Dr. Maria Carrillo.

Angie had to change the way she sees the relationship with her husband when she was thrust into the caregiver role.

“I’m a widow, and I have a child,” she says, “and then it made it bearable.”

Being a caregiver can be lonely and a great financial burden.

Angie recently had to move John out of their home and into a private care facility, which costs more than half of her monthly salary.

“This one’s private pay, so it’s all on us, and I just don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says.

The monetary value of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. tops $220-billion.

The Alzheimer’s Association report also finds women are much more likely than men to switch from working full-time to working part-time or giving up their jobs entirely.

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