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Report: Caring for Alzheimer's Patients Is Both Costly and Time-Consuming

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Alzheimer's disease robs patients of their independence and their ability to do the most basic daily tasks. On that account, they need help or someone to do things for them -- a caregiver.

According to a report from the Alzheimer's Association, of the nearly 15 million alzheimer's caregivers, most are family members and friends and they usually are unpaid.

Yet they provide 17 billion hours of care valued a more than $200 billion, according to the report. Ten years ago there were an estimated 10 million caregivers providing half as many hours of care.

Caring for an alzheimer's patient is not easy. It's time-consuming, stressful and takes a physical toll on the providers, resulting in nearly $8 billion in extra health costs for caregivers, the report says.

Although alzheimer's can strike at middle age, it's primarily a disease of the elderly.  And as baby boomer ages, the elderly population is growing.

And even with all the unpaid support families get caring for their loved ones, the report says, health and nursing home costs for alzheimer's patients will total $183 billion this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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