Letter: Krista Klemens, Leesburg

Editor: During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the impact of caregiving and honor the more than 15 million Americans caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.  In 2016, these caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of care valued at over $230 billion.

My mother was a caregiver for my father, who passed away at the age of 78 from Alzheimer’s. Caring for my father took a huge toll on my mom physically, emotionally and financially.  Towards the end of his battle with Alzheimer’s, my mom had to help my dad with all of his personal care needs, including bathing, dressing, and grooming. This was no easy task considering he was much stronger than my mom and often refused to cooperate. More importantly, my mother experienced a sense of isolation as the demands for caring for my father increased. She was unable to participate in activities outside the home such as going to church, lunch with friends, or simply running errands. Unfortunately, my mother was not aware of resources or support programs in her community that may have eased her burden.

Importantly, Congress is currently considering legislation that would provide much needed support to our nation’s family caregivers – the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028/ H.R. 3759).  Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act would facilitate the creation of a national strategy to address the many issues facing caregivers, including education and training, long-term services and supports, and financial stability and security.

In September, the Senate unanimously passed the Act, sending a clear message of support to our nation’s family caregivers. I am thankful to Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine for supporting the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. It is now time for the House of Representatives to take the same action and pass the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.

Please join me in asking Representative Barbara Comstock for her support. To learn more about the resources for Alzheimer’s Family caregivers, visit alz.org/nca.

Krista Klemens, Leesburg

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