Letters: Give back through ABC opportunities; Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver burden growing

Give back through ABC opportunities

Have you ever wondered how to give back to your community? There are volunteer positions open on Authorities, Boards and Commissions throughout Centre County. Your community needs you!

These positions offer volunteers an extraordinary opportunity to participate in local government. This is the way to learn how municipal government works. Local governments are often underfunded and understaffed. They rely on volunteers to lend their voice, knowledge and willingness to learn to address needs and resolve issues. This is also the perfect “training ground” for any aspiring political candidate.

Examples of ABC opportunities: Township or Borough Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, Water Authority, Parks & Recreation Committee, Industrial Development Authority, and Local Traffic Advisory Committee.

Regional examples of ABC opportunities: Council on Aging, University Area Joint Authority Board, C-NET, Centre Region Planning Commission, Recycling and Refuse Authority and Schlow Centre Region Library Board.

County ABCs provide advice and assistance to the Centre County Board of Commissioners, department heads, elected officials and staff.

Volunteer participation, assistance and advice on each Authority, Board or Commission has helped to influence public policy at every level of our municipal government.

Centre County Government, and most municipalities, have a website where you can find more information and a listing of ABCs. You can also complete a basic application online to volunteer. Serving on an ABC is a great way to share your expertise, learn new things, engage with your community and make a difference. Give it a try!

Sue Sargo, College Township. The author is the secretary of the League of Women Voters of Centre County.

Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver burden growing

The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report reveals the Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver burden continues to grow in Pennsylvania. Today, there are over 400,000 family members and friends serving as unpaid dementia caregivers in the commonwealth providing 464M hours of unpaid care, valued at $10.7B.

Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers face unique challenges. They report higher rates of chronic conditions including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and cancer compared to non-caregivers. In Pennsylvania, 56% of caregivers reported having at least one of these chronic conditions.

The prevalence of depression is higher among dementia caregivers (30%-40%) when compared to caregivers for other conditions such as schizophrenia (20%) or stroke (19%). In Pennsylvania, 22% of caregivers reported depression.

I call on all state policymakers and community leaders to implement immediate actions to support family caregivers across Pennsylvania. We must establish and fund a public health infrastructure for Alzheimer’s, and highlight the importance of early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides support for all caregivers through our 24/7 Helpline, 800-272-3900, and our website alz.org/pa. Now is the time to join together as we look for a better future of a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

Clayton Jacobs, Harrisburg. The author is the executive director, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter