To the Editor,

This past November, during National Family Caregivers Month, I recognize that Alzheimer’s is not just devastating for the more than 5 million Americans living with the disease, but also for the more than 16 million family and friends serving as caregivers. Caring for someone living with dementia is a long and arduous process. As one of those caregivers, I understand how draining and lonely this disease truly is.

In 2016, my father was admitted to hospice due to frontotemporal dementia. I quit my job in cancer research to become his caregiver alongside my mother. His primary progressive aphasia robbed him of his ability to speak, so my mother and I became my father’s “voice” to ensure he received the best care possible. 

I have never felt a greater purpose than this time I spent with my father. However, it was an arduous and heartbreaking experience to become the caregiver of the loved one who had raised me and taught me everything I knew. Even more heartbreaking was that my father did not remember me, nor did he understand that I was there to help. Caregiving is a full-time, 24/7 job that takes both a physical and emotional toll on the caregiver. There is also a sense of guilt caregivers experience if and when they take time away from the job of caregiving to take care of themselves. 

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s made me realize that more could be done in our fight to end this terrible disease, and that’s why I became a volunteer advocate with the Alzheimer’s Association. 

I’m dedicated to helping our elected officials better understand the challenges associated with dementias and how Congress can help! Our leaders have made this disease a priority in a past, and that’s why I’m calling on Senator Rand Paul and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again this year to support an additional $354 million in Alzheimer’s research funding. 

These dollars are helping us make the inroads necessary to eradicating the disease that has stricken our loved ones.

Please join me in asking Senator Paul and Senator McConnell to support this initiative so we can offer hope to those affected by this devastating disease.

 

Caitlin Dunworth 

Lexington

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