A week ago, Mayor Bloomberg proposed cuts of nearly $500 million to the FY '09 city budget. Among the many serious cuts proposed is the elimination of city funding for social adult day services for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive dysfunction. It is not surprising, particularly in this economy, that cuts in the budget are necessary. But this cut targets a growing and vulnerable population with little other recourse.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, approximately 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and one in every three of those who don’t will bear the responsibility of caring for a spouse or family member who does. Additionally, studies show that due to the difficulty and time required to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, family caregivers are forced to choose between keeping their jobs and placing the individual in a nursing home for full-time care.
Adult day services offer an alternative to caregivers by providing a safe, assisted environment where participants can socialize and participate in recreational and therapeutic activities that keep them alert and engaged, while providing respite for their families, making it easier for the caregivers to keep their jobs and their loved ones at home for as long as possible. Access to adult day services benefits the individuals, their caregivers, and the community at large. The annual cost of Alzheimer's to business (in absenteeism, reduced productivity, replacement costs for caregivers who quit and health care costs for individuals) is estimated at more than $61.1 billion. Social adult day care services cost an average of just $61 a day, while nursing home care for patients with Alzheimer's averages $213 a day.
We need to protect these services, which are so critical to the community, the economy, and the growing population of seniors. I urge everyone to contact their elected officials, and object strenuously to budget cuts that put so much of the financial burden on the most vulnerable among us.
Sunnyside Community Services