Caregiver Support and Interaction

Lisa N. Richey, Matthew E. Peters, M.D., Andrea Nelson


  • A caregiver is someone who provides support to an individual with cognitive, psychiatric, and/or physical limitations with the goal of helping them to maintain health and cope with the demands of daily life.
    • This guide focuses specifically on unpaid lay-person caregivers who lack formal training.
  • The act of providing care can have a multidimensional impact on the caregiver, including physical, emotional, social, and financial consequences.
    • Addressing heavy caregiver burden is important, as it has negative implications for community-dwelling patient outcomes including increased rates of mortality and hospitalization.[1]
  • Of the 40 million Americans that provide care to an adult,[2] it is estimated that 8.4 million care for an individual with mental health issues.[3]
  • Specific to Alzheimer’s and related dementias, it is estimated that caregivers of this population provide an estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care per year, comprising an “invisible healthcare system” with an annual worth of approximately $232.1 billion.[4]
  • The need for lay-person caregivers has increased as the Western world has seen a shift from long-term institutionalization to community-based care of individuals with severe mental illness and neurodegenerative conditions.

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Last updated: December 6, 2020