On Thursday, the Loudoun supervisors presented a proclamation declaring Labor Day weekend as a “Labor of Love” weekend to Norman Duncan, a Loudoun County man who serves as chairman of the International Caregivers Association Board.
The ICA works to create a universal standard of dementia care.
Duncan also served as a longtime caregiver for his wife Elsie, who died last year.
From his experience, Duncan said he wants to provide respite for caregivers and do away with palliative care, instead placing people sent home from hospice under the care of a general practitioner.
“Those who are serving their loved ones 24/7, they need a respite,” Duncan said. “They need family, and it gets very lonely.”
Duncan hearkened to the words of Dame Cecily Saunders, a founding figure in the hospice movement who espoused palliative care, who said: “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”
The board’s resolution, adopted at its July 21 meeting, is intended to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and draw attention to relatives and family friends who care for loved ones who are suffering from the disease. Dementia care requires a particular skillset and around-the-clock attention. Most dementia care that allows older people to live in their own homes is provided by family members who do not receive pay for their services.
“In every way, we really have to support and appreciate what caregivers do on a daily basis,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) during the presentation.
National data shows that more than five million Americans are living with the disease and that number is expected to triple by the year 2050. One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, which amounts to 11 percent of Virginia’s senior population. The disease is considered one of the costliest chronic diseases to society with total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice estimated at $236 billion for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, much of which is paid for by Medicare.
“There’s almost no one that you can find that hasn’t been touched, or hasn’t had a relative be touched, by a caregiver,” said Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) during the presentation.
Loudoun County provides support and respite to caregivers of older adults through the three Adult Day Centers that are operated by the county’s Area Agency on Aging. The centers serve Loudoun County residents age 60 or older with memory loss, health problems or physical limitations who are unsafe when left alone and who would benefit from socialization or help with personal care needs. More information is available at loudoun.gov/aaa.