June Physician Focus: The Other Side of Alzheimer’s: Caregivers and Families

Alzheimer’s disease currently affects some 5.3 million Americans, with most of those over 65 years of age, and as our population ages, its incidence is likely to increase: estimates are that by 2025 another two million  Alzheimer'sseniors will be afflicted.

The toll of Alzheimer’s on patients is cruel and tragic, but the effects of the disease go far beyond the patient, to family members and friends who act as caregivers. And that group is large indeed: More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

To provide some perspective of the impact on caregivers, the June episode of Physician Focus features two health care professionals from Summit ElderCare in Worcester, one of six PACE programs (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) in Massachusetts.

Guests are Susan Hardy, M.D., (photo, center) a board-certified internist with a subspecialty in geriatric medicine and Summit’s Associate Medical Director, and Brenda King, Psy.D., (right) a clinical psychologist with specialties in health psychology and gerontology and Summit’s Behavioral Health Specialist. Hosting this edition is Bruce Karlin, M.D.

The conversation explores such areas as the many demands required of caregivers and families, the difficulties they face, the emotional and physical toll that caregiving takes, the importance of early recognition and planning, the resources available for help, and how a team approach can enhance care.

Physician Focus, now in its 11th consecutive year of production, is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and on YouTube.

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