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Concerns are many when caring for patients with AD Special To The Star-news | Sat, Apr 02 2011 12:00 PM

(NAPS) - A national survey of 524 non-professional Alzheimer's disease (AD) caregivers found that, over time, memory loss and confusion, which are cognitive symptoms, in addition to personal safety are their greatest concerns related to their loved one's AD. In fact, 67 percent of AD caregivers surveyed said changes in cognitive symptoms were among their main concerns.

The survey was recently conducted by Harris Interactive for Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc in partnership with the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA).

The majority of AD caregivers surveyed are proactive participants in the dialogue and decision-making around their loved one's disease, and 75 percent were either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the communication they have with their loved one's health care professional. However, one fourth of caregivers were either "somewhat" or "not at all satisfied," highlighting there may be room for improvement in this dialogue.

"Family caregivers are typically the first to notice when their loved one's symptoms are changing and whether AD may be progressing," said Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of AFA. "This is why it is critical for them to proactively engage in discussions with their health care professional to help address these changes."

Family gatherings provide an opportunity to observe changes in a loved one that may stand out after not seeing them for a while.

About AD

AD-a degenerative disease of the brain-is typically characterized by three stages: mild, moderate and severe. AD gradually gets worse over time and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Right now, as many as 5.1 million Americans age 65 and older have AD, with 3.6 million of those having moderate-to-severe disease.

AD affects not only the individual with the disease but also the caregivers and the entire family. As our population ages-including the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 in 2011-the disease may impact a greater percentage of Americans.

For additional information about AD and other resources, visit www.alz fdn.org.

Key survey findings

The survey also illustrated the following:

¥Fifty-five percent of AD caregivers surveyed said caring for their loved one has taken a toll on their own health

¥Sixty percent of AD caregivers surveyed said they feel overwhelmed

¥Eighty-four percent of caregivers of loved ones with severe AD surveyed said caregiving frequently stops them from participating in activities they enjoy, which is more than caregivers of loved ones with mild (67 percent) and moderate (68 percent) AD

¥The three greatest caregiver concerns about their loved one's AD were memory loss (41 percent), personal safety (33 percent) and confusion (27 percent)

¥Sixty-seven percent of AD caregivers surveyed named at least one change in cognitive symptoms as a main concern about their loved one's AD.

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