DEAR EDITOR:

Over 6 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, and there are more than 11 million Americans caring for them. In 2020, these family caregivers provided more than were approximately 15.3 billion hours of care for their loved ones. As an ALZ ambassador, student of gerontology and public health, and both a paid and unpaid caregiver, I recognize and understand the many ways how this cognitive progressive disease takes a profound toll on caregivers.

My grandmother, Ms. Adams, was the primary caregiver for my now deceased grandfather, TSGT Ret. James C. Adams Sr. They were married for over 65 years. There was nothing that they would not do for each other. After four kids and many moves abroad, my grandfather’s sundowner’s dementia began in his later years, leaving my hearing-impaired grandmother with the brunt of the medical responsibilities. My grandfather adored my grandmother to the point where she never pumped her own gas, so being left with making major financial decisions, end-of-life care decisions, and simply performing hygiene for him proved taxing, as she is older and has her own health issues as well. Many unpaid caregivers like my grandmother lack proper training, resources, support from community-based services that are not accessible or even available for families like ours.

To support families like mine and other Georgians dealing with such a dilapidating disease, I am asking Congressman Barry Loudermilk to co-sponsor the bipartisan Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act (S.56/H.R. 1474) which will provide much needed support for the unpaid caregivers and family members. This legislation will appropriate funds to expand training and support for families affected by ALZ or other dementias by providing training and support for community-based services such as community health centers, senior centers, and Area Agencies on Aging which will reach diverse communities like mine and others across Georgia. Thank you for your consideration.

Tvonia Thomas

Marietta

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