Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver burden growing in California

Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia face unique challenges and as dementia symptoms worsen, caregivers can experience increased emotional and physical stress making it more difficult to care for their loved ones. Many caregivers rely on direct care workers for in-home care allowing their loved one to continue living at home and help prevent or delay nursing home placement.

The Alzheimer’s Association recently released its annual Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report revealing the latest burden of Alzheimer’s and dementia on California caregivers is growing. According to the 2023 Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report:

  • Today, there are more than 11 million family members and friends serving as dementia caregivers, including 1,374,000 caregivers in California.
  • Fifty-nine percent of unpaid caregivers report emotional stress due to caregiving and 39 percent of unpaid caregivers report physical stress due to caregiving.
  • The prevalence of anxiety among dementia caregivers is 44 percent, compared to caregivers of people with stroke (31 percent)
  • Dementia caregivers report higher rates of chronic conditions including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer compared to caregivers of people without dementia or non-caregivers. In California, 61 percent of caregivers reported at least one chronic condition.
  • The prevalence of depression is higher among dementia caregivers (30 to 40 percent) when compared to caregivers for other conditions such as schizophrenia (20 percent) or stroke (19 percent) In California, 18.6 percent of caregivers reported depression.
  • Seventy-four percent of caregivers report they are “somewhat concerned” to “very concerned” about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver. In California, 13.1 percent report frequent poor physical health.

The prevalence of suicidal ideation in dementia caregivers with a mean age of 64 was 32 percent compared with 2.7 percent in US adults age 56 and older.

The new report also looked at the number of direct care workers needed between 2020 and 2030 – an estimated 1.2 million more direct care workers are needed, which is more new workers than in any other single occupation in the United States. This projected growth in the direct care workforce is being seen across the country and in California.

The 2023 Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report revealed:

  • In 2020, there are approximately 766,000 of home health and personal care aides in California.
  • By 2030, California will need 985,800 of home health and personal care aides, a 28.7 percent increase.

“This new report clearly shows that dementia caregivers need more support now and in the coming years,” said Elizabeth Edgerly, Executive Director, Region 2 Lead, Alzheimer’s Association Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter. “The Alzheimer’s Association provides support for all caregivers through our 24/7 Helpline, local support groups, care consultations and additional local resources that can help relieve some of the burden they’re facing. Most importantly, caregivers need to know they are not alone and we are here to help.”

To learn more about the resources available for caregivers and families or to learn more about the 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, visit alz.org.