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Family caregivers play a key role in supporting patients with a wide variety of disorders, but they are especially important in taking care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It is estimated that at least 9.7 million and as many as 15 million of the 44 million US caregivers are caring for someone with dementia.

In dementia, the family caregiver often takes on many functions: the companion, the informal provider of medical care and nursing tasks, the advocate at doctors’ appointments, and, in later stages, the major decision maker. The caregiver brings to the table an otherwise unattainable perspective and must understand both the needs of the patient and the treatment options offered. Caregivers should be treated as critical members of patients’ healthcare teams.

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