Expected rise in Alzheimer’s patients; raises concerns over increasing caregiver shortage

A new study released Wednesday shows there will not be enough caregivers to tend to those suffering from progressive memory diseases in Ohio and nationwide.

News Center 7′s Kayla McDermott talked with the Alzheimer’s Association about the study results need for more workers than any other job in the United States.

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Millions of people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every year, and in a few years, there will not be enough healthcare workers to support these patients.

AnneMarie Barnett is the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley and Greater Cincinnati Chapters and knows firsthand how vital caregivers are to those patients since she lost her mother to the disease.

“She was in a facility, you’re still their advocate, you’re still, stressed about it and worrying making sure they’re getting the best care,” Barnett said.

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The best care is needed for the growing elderly population in Ohio.

“There’s about 2.5 million people over 60 in Ohio, and it’s growing 20 times that population is growing 20 times faster than any population has,” Barnett said.

The number of trained specialists to take care of these patients is decreasing.

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“In Ohio, there are over 95,000 direct care workers in 2020. By 2030, to meet the demand, we’re gonna need 29% more than that, which is a lot,” Barnett said.

Healthcare workers knew how to help Barnett’s mom and which allowed her to relax.

“They were so wonderful with her, and honestly, when I went home that night, it was probably the best night’s sleep I had had in a long time because I knew she was safe,” Barnett said.

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Those who are diagnosed in the near future might not have the same comfort. In Ohio, 250,000 people are expected to have Alzheimer’s in the next two years. To care for the expected patients, the number of caregivers will need to be increased by close to 230 percent.

Barnett wants to raise awareness before the caregiver shortage becomes a crisis.

“I want people to have their moms there at their weddings. I want people to be able to share that with their mom. And those are things that I won’t ever be able to do,” Barnett said.

Education programs and volunteer opportunities exist for those who want to get into this field. The Alzheimer’s Association has an online education center on its website, available 24 hours a day. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in the Miami Valley, visit the Miami Valley and Dayton Alzheimer’s Association webpage.