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Alzheimer's advocates push for more help for caregivers

Ellen Abbott
Mary Koenig joined a group of Alzheimer's advocates Tuesday morning who went to Albany to push for more help for caregivers

Local Alzheimer's advocates got on a bus early Tuesday morning and headed for Albany to push for more funding for caregivers of those with the deadly brain disease. 

Mary Koenig with the CNY Alzheimer's Association said her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease four years ago. He lives at home, and his wife is his major caregiver. He has bouts of hallucinations, talking to people who aren’t there. It’s hard for him to get in and out of a chair.  As the disease progresses, Koenig’s biggest fear is that something happens to her mother.

“Because she’s the primary caregiver and myself and siblings support her as we can,” said Koenig. “But knowing that if something happened to her we would have to find a different alternative.”

Koenig said most victims of Alzheimer’s, a degenerative disease that’s the most common cause of dementia, are taken care of in their homes in central New York. And that actually is cost effective.  A report out this week shows New York state with the highest Medicaid expenditures for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia in the country, much of it covering nursing home care. 

So keeping these caregivers healthy is key, and Koenig said the state could help fund a number of programs.

"Day care, support groups for caregivers. Caregiving by nature is a selfless act and people literally give of themselves to the point that they are getting ill. So anything we can do to support them,” she said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.