Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease and its prevalence is only growing.
I watched my parents struggle day to day to make it through the past 10 years of my father’s battle with this condition, until it claimed his life in January of this year.
My father, who was a hard working husband and father, proudly served for 20 years with the U.S. Navy, followed by 25 years with the U.S. Postal Service. Relying on my father's meager retirement and Social Security, my parents made just enough to place them out of reach of any funding relief. Nursing homes have long waiting lists for people with Alzheimer's, and due to the care required are also very expensive unless you have planned ahead and established a long-term healthcare policy, which is almost unattainable for the middle-income families.
Even though my father served and sacrificed unselfishly for the U.S. Navy, there was very little assistance available for him through the VA Benefits.
My mother, who battles her own health issues, cared for my father 24/7, with the limited assistance she was able to receive from Hospice Pallative Care towards the end. My mother would not have changed what she had done for my father, though honestly she also had no other options.
I have seen the physical/emotional toll it has taken upon her and the decline in her health as well. I have also seen other family members and friends go through this battle, walking our very same footsteps.
This disease not only affects the individual, but the caregiver as well. Today there are more than 5 million Americans living with this disease and 15.4 million caregivers.
We are at a critical moment, and I urge you to reach out to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key member of the U.S. Senate appropriations Subcommitte on Health to support a strong National Alzheimer’s Plan with the needed resources for patients and caregivers, including funding of $100 million in fiscal year 2014 for Alzheimer’s research, education, and outreach and caregiver support services.