Alzheimer’s hidden toll on the caregivers
Alzheimer's affects New Jersey's 65-and-older population more than the national average.
There are 180,000 individuals in New Jersey who have Alzheimer's disease. About 5.7 million Americans nationwide are affected by the disease, which is a common cause of dementia.
Not only does it impact the economy and families, Ken Zaentz, president and CEO of Alzheimer's New Jersey, says more needs to be done to help caregivers.
Most of the services caregivers need are not covered by insurance. So they are footing the bill to the point of almost bankruptcy.
While Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, age does increase the risk. As brain cells deteriorate, people with the disease lose more and more memory and learning functions, suffer from confusion and lose the ability to speak or walk. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the country.
Zaentz said that while Medicaid and Medicare pay for acute care and hospitalization, they do not cover services related to treatment.
Zaentz would like to see caregivers better prepared and understand what's going to come next.
"We also want caregivers to understand how important it is to take care of themselves because it can be extremely isolating and extremely stressful when you're caring for someone with Alzheimer's," he said.
Programs like community education, respite care and wellness are being highlighted by Alzheimer's New Jersey.