Alzheimer’s impacts all ages

Published 9:27 am Saturday, April 6, 2024

An Editorial Opinion of The Greenville Advocate

On March 20, the Alzheimer’s Association released its annual report, providing an in-depth look at the latest state and national statistics on the prevalence, mortality, caregiving and costs of care related to the disease.

The numbers were staggering.

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The report finds there are 103,600 Alabama residents age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s dementia. New data indicates the burden of caring for someone with the disease imp[acts local families, amounting to countless hours spent caregiving, an increased financial burden and significant health care challenges.

And, to top it off, Alabama’s workforce has significant gaps, shortages in dementia care workers, compromising care for individuals living with the disease.

A special report, “Mapping a Better Future for Dementia Care Navigation, revealed 70% of dementia caregivers say coordinating care for a family member with dementia is stressful. More than half (53%) report navigating health care is also difficult, with two out of three caregivers having trouble finding the resources and support needed to care for their own needs.

Accompanying the report was a letter from Melisa Mote of Hardaway, who is an Alzheimer’s Association advocate, representing Alabama families and persons living with the disease.

Mote described how she and her sisters cared for their mother and saw firsthand the ravages of Alzheimer’s on the individual and their family.

Mote’s story is the same as that of many caring for loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s. She and her family are forever changed, and now, she advocates for measures that help supply resources and support for the individual and their caregivers.

Each of us, young and old, have been touched by the impact of Alzheimer’s if not in our own lives, in the lives of our families and friends.

The association urges communities to allow Alzheimer’s impact to spur us into action. Mote suggests contacting Congressional representatives and asking them to advance policies in the fight against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

We, you and I, can also offer support to caregivers, volunteering to provide a few hours of respite care or to take care of chores, like cooking and cleaning, to ease the burden. We can also provide a listening ear and a word of encouragement to families impacted directly by the disease.

Not one person is untouched by Alzheimer’s. Let us allow this to spur us to act, in whatever way we can, to increase the level of local support available to those with the disease as well as those who care for them.