Entries in Caregivers (4)


Alzheimers Murder Raises Light on Caregiver Stress

HANS-ULRICH OSTERWALDER/Getty Images(BISMARCK, N.D.) -- David Winter bashed his elderly father's head more than 40 times with a flashlight and stabbed him at least a dozen times with a letter opener.

His father, Lawrence, had Alzheimer's and Winter was his sole caregiver.

The odd hours Lawrence Winter would roam around the house, due to the body clock changes that occur in Alzheimer's, became too much for his son to handle.

David Winter awoke on March 30, 2011, at 6:30 a.m. and found his father making tomato soup. After putting his father back to bed, he snapped.

Winter, who has a developmental disability, did not have a criminal record and told a judge at sentencing that he loved his father and misses him every day.

"I'm not an evil person," Winter said, according to the Bismarck Tribune. "I just had more than I could handle."

Although Winter's case is extreme, an estimated 44 million caregivers in the United States face a tremendous burden that often times causes them to crack when they least expect it. Somewhere between 30 percent to 40 percent of dementia caregivers suffer from depression and emotional stress, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

"The stress of caring for someone 24 hours a day would drive people to do things they would never do," said Marlo Sollitto, an editor at Aging Care, an online support community for caregivers. "We've seen posts from people who say, 'Help, I can't do this anymore.' We have heard people say 'I want to kill my mother'. "

Winter's case underscores the need for people caring for a loved one to reach out for help, said Krista Headland, a spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Association in North Dakota.

Winter was sentenced to 18 years in prison Tuesday for his admitted role in his father's death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Older Caregivers at Greater Risk of Dementia

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- What happens when you add the burdens of caring for someone with dementia to the burdens of growing old yourself?

A report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society finds that older caregivers are at an increased risk of dementia, and often have problems with memory and attention themselves.

The authors say the reasons for this cognitive decline may include depression, loneliness, social isolation and poor diet and exercise.

The report notes they are all modifiable risk factors that may be reduced by intervention.

In a separate report, the Pew Research Center says people caring for loved ones are more likely than other adults to avail themselves of social network sites to share health information and support.

It is possible we are seeing a generational shift. The isolation and loneliness that contribute to the mental decline of older caregivers could be reduced as younger caregivers make increased use of online social networks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: 18 Percent of Lung Cancer Patients Still Smoking

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- A study paid for by the U.S. National Cancer Institute found that many lung cancer patients as well as their caregivers continue to smoke after diagnosis, despite the compromising affect smoking may have on the recovery process.

Researchers report that of 742 lung cancer patients and caregivers, 18 percent continued smoking, and it may be due to feelings of guilt or social stigmas.

Lead author on the study, Kathryn E. Weaver said, "The biggest obstacle is fatalism, the belief that it is too late to quit smoking so why bother."

But, she adds, there are benefits of kicking the habit that are relative to one's chances of survival such as response to treatments and quality of life.

Bottom line, the study -- recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention -- highlights the need for more counseling and medication for patients and caregivers to overcome their smoking addiction and make healthier choices, Weaver said.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


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 

ABC News Radio