The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are nearly 600,000 unpaid caregivers for the more than 230,000 Illinoisans living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

These numbers will continue to rise until a cure or prevention is found.

We must address the vital needs of these Illinois families and caregivers who face daily emotional, physical and financial challenges from this disease.

As a volunteer advocate with the Alzheimer’s Association, I am committed to making Alzheimer’s a priority in our state because I have personally been effected by this disease in my family with two of my grandparents passing away from it. My Grandma, who is over ninety, was the primary caregiver for my Grandpa.

Our state government needs to become actively engaged in the fight against dementia, and I hope my senator, Dale Righter, will work to be a part of this change.

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For far too long, Illinois has struggled to take care of its residents, without having a single state level position devoted to addressing the needs of the growing number of Illinoisans affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

It is time to take action by passing Senate Bill 1726, creating a full-time dementia coordinator. This legislation, supported by the Alzheimer's Association, will create a dementia coordinator position to ensure there are adequate services for all families and caregivers by implementing the Alzheimer's Disease State Plan recommendations. The best part about this bill is that it's paid for with private funds, which ensures this initiative doesn't contribute to Illinois' fiscal woes.

As an Illinoisan who has experienced the hardships of this disease, I ask my senator, Dale Righter, to cosponsor Senate Bill 1726 to keep the needs of families and caregivers affected by Alzheimer’s at a forefront.

I look forward to working with you and engaging our state government in the fight to END ALZHEIMER’S!

Abby Walker, Mattoon

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