Letter: Krista L Klemens, Leesburg

Editor: My dad, James Shives, passed away on Christmas Eve in 2012, after living with Alzheimer’s for eight years. He was only 78 years old.

During those years, there are several moments that stand out in my mind: The time my dad asked me if I had ever been to his home (the home I grew up in); the day we had to place him in a nursing home because he tried to strangle my mom; and finally, the day I took him outside at the nursing home, and he touched the grass and smiled.

Alzheimer’s took everything from my dad, leaving him scared and weak at the end of his life. He had no memories left of the life he had, or how much he was loved by his wife, daughters, family and friends.

As my dad’s caregiver, it was physically, emotionally, and financially draining for my mom. After 35 years of hard work and sacrifice, my parents lost nearly half of their savings as a result of this disease.

The numbers are staggering regarding the costs of Alzheimer’s care, not only for individuals, but for America as well. It is estimated that in 2017, the cost of care for individuals with Alzheimer’s will be $259 billion. In addition, twenty percent of all Medicare dollars spent in 2017 will be spent on someone with this disease, and nearly $44 billion will be spent under the Medicaid program. Without a cure or treatment for this disease the cost of care will continue to rise to unprecedented levels.

I am committed to continuing the fight against Alzheimer’s in honor of my dad by volunteering with The Alzheimer’s Association. I invite you to join me in the fight against Alzheimer’s by walking with me in the Northern Virginia Walk to End Alzheimer’s, on Sept. 24. To learn more about Alzheimer’s and the Walk, go to alz.org/nca/walk.

Together we can help raise awareness and funds for support, care, and research for this devastating disease.

Krista L Klemens, Leesburg

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