The survey also found that 70 percent of sandwich caregivers said they need more help caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, while 33 percent said they need more help with their children. In addition, 63 percent said they'd like more information about how to help their children cope when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
"A segment of young adults and teens assist with managing the daily needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease, and a small percent are even called upon to make informed decisions about treatment. It's crucial that they have access to good information sources," Dr. Lesley Blake, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, said in a prepared statement.
"As Alzheimer's disease progresses, declines in cognition, function and behavior worsen. Both adult and non-adult caregivers need to be educated about what to expect and, more importantly, what to do in these cases," Blake said. "Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial. Symptoms -- loss of function, decline in cognitive ability and difficult behavior -- can be delayed and caregiver burden reduced through medication therapy, which may include combining medications from two FDA-approved Alzheimer's medication classes."
The survey, funded by Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., found that 77 percent of sandwich caregivers weren't aware that combination drug therapy can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease. In many cases, respondents said there was a delay -- typically about two years -- in their loved ones' diagnosis of Alzheimer's. In cases where diagnosis was delayed for a year or more, the most common cause was a lack of caregiver awareness about Alzheimer's disease. About half of those caregivers said they believed the disease was a normal part of aging.
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