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CNN Today

Care Crisis for Alzheimer's Patients Looms

Aired July 17, 2000 - 2:28 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Alzheimer's experts say they foresee a long-term care crisis. They predict a critical shortage of workers willing to care for the millions of baby boomers expected to develop the disease in the decades ahead.

Here's CNN's Pat Neal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JACK MCLOUGHLIN: All right, we're going to do it this way

PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex McLoughlin is 55 years old, but doctors say her mental ability is that of a 2-year-old.

MCLOUGHLIN: Would you help out, Cindy (ph) please? yes.

NEAL: Over the past 10 years, Jack McLoughlin has witnessed his wife's mental state decline and his burden increase. He needed help, but finding the right caregiver was difficult.

MCLOUGHLIN: It's important, that they have a great deal of feeling. Because it's not an easy job. It's very wearing.

NEAL: After losing two nurses to better-paying jobs, McLoughlin found success when he asked their housekeeper if she would like to become Alex's caregiver.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are headed, definitely headed for a crisis.

NEAL: An estimated four million Americans have Alzheimer's now. Major advances were announced last week that offer hope for prevention and treatment. But experts say unless a cure or prevention is found soon, four million could become 12 million in the next 50 years, as baby boomers age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Based on the demographic information, there won't be enough care workers.

SCOTT COLTON, ALZHEIMER'S CARE FACILITY OWNER: It's always hard to find good caregivers. It's a difficult job and it doesn't pay a lot.

STACEY HAMILTON, ALZHEIMER'S CAREGIVER: Let me see a smile, good job.

NEAL: Scott Colton wants to hold on to employees like Stacey Hamilton, who's worked with Alzheimer's patients for 13 years and loves the job.

HAMILTON: They need a lot of love and they need a lot of care. They need around-the-clock supervision. You know, things they do, it's not their fault, it's part of the disease.

Come on, Dale, four, five.

NEAL: It's hard work emotionally and physically. Turnover is high, almost 100 percent every year industry-wide. To counter that, Colton offers benefits, insurance, paid vacations, bonuses, ownership opportunities, that experts say can encourage employees to stay.

COLTON: You have to have incentives. You have to have a reason to come to work in the morning.

HAMILTON: Now pucker up like you're going to kiss me again.

NEAL: Experts stress unless changes like these are implemented industry-wide, the country could face a crisis: more Alzheimer's patients and few people to care for them.

HAMILTON: I love you.

NEAL: Pat Neal, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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