In the U.S. there are over 15 million family members caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia. They are often financially, emotionally and physically stressed to the breaking point, and receive little or no support from other family members or friends. I recently met with Susan Galeas, former CEO of Alzheimer's Greater Los Angeles and asked her to list the top three needs that might be on a caregiver's wishlist. Her response was sobering.
If you know someone one is a caregiver you should assume they could use your support, but probably won't ask for it. Take the initiative and offer to help, and don't take no for an answer.
This weekend we polled primary caregivers and asked them what one thing would have the greatest impact on their quality of life. Not surprisingly, the number one item on our caregivers' wish lists was increased financial resources -- by a factor of more than two to one over any other choice. "More money" was chosen by 33% of respondents, while 15% identified more sleep, more help from family, and assistance with chores as their number one wish list pick.
Our small survey underscores the duel stresses on families dealing with Alzheimer's, who must manage the devastating effects of the disease while at the same time often wondering how in the world to pay bills that will only increase over time. As we go through the 2016 primaries and general election, I hope that a candidate emerges who will address the catastrophic financial impact this disease has on families and communities alike.
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