This is in response a recent editorial about the South Carolina Office on Aging's funding initiative for programs to help 770,000 caregivers in our state. As an organization that serves family caregivers, Memory Matters supports and recognizes the urgency of this initiative.
Consider these facts: The immune systems of many caregivers are comparable to patients with advanced-stage HIV. Caregiver stress results in high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems and depression. Their health is so compromised that one-third will die before their loved ones. Caregivers spend their lives always on call. The annual cost of lost productivity due to work disruptions is $26 billion a year. The annual cost of caregiver absenteeism to businesses is $7.9 billion a year.
Caregivers care for children with autism, loved ones with cancer, Down syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and more. Theirs is a labor of love, but they desperately need support.
"The sandwich generation" cares for children and aging parents. Families care for wounded veterans. There are care recipients afflicted with a multitude of conditions. As baby boomers age, the role of unpaid, family caregivers will increase exponentially; one in eight baby boomers is expected to develop Alzheimer's, for which there is still no cure.
Please pick up your phone or email your legislators. Make some noise for those too tired and overwhelmed to take on yet another task.
Edwina Hoyle, executive director
Hilton Head Island