November is National Family Caregivers Month. In New York, 546,000 family caregivers are providing care worth over $19 billion to their loved ones with dementia. Though these caregivers provide …
November is National Family Caregivers Month. In New York, 546,000 family caregivers are providing care worth over $19 billion to their loved ones with dementia. Though these caregivers provide significant savings to the state, they are not getting enough support in return. The funding for New York’s Alzheimer’s Disease Community Assistance Program (AlzCAP), which offers care consultations, support groups, educational programs and other services, has been stagnant for years, while the number of caregivers who need these services has continued to grow.
As a facilitator for a caregiver support group, I have heard many stories about how lonely and frustrated caregivers can become. They can’t go places like they used to and people stop visiting them. Sometimes their only socialization is the monthly support group meetings, where they can share their stories and comfort each other.
These individuals are well respected citizens who helped out in their community; now, in their time of need, the community should support them. Not only will such support mitigate their financial, emotional and physical struggle, but it will also be less of a financial burden for the state than costly nursing home care.
Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is expensive. One study found that 47 percent of family caregivers have cut back on their food, transportation and health care expenses to pay for a loved one’s care.
And many caregivers struggle with mental health issues, such as depression, and oftentimes do not have the financial resources to take care of their own physical health. Unfortunately, we have seen too often where the caregiver passes before the loved one they are caring for due to their stress and health issues.
New York can do better in supporting people who take on this vital role. Please join me in calling on Assemblymember Aileen Gunther and the other members of the NYS Legislature to increase funding for AlzCAP.
Volunteer advocate, Alzheimer’s Association
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