Family caregiver stress results in a tragedy

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The Greater Pittsburgh community was saddened last week when we learned about the deaths of a father and his adult son with significant disabilities (“Father, Disabled Son Found Dead; Friends Call Killing an ‘Act Of Love,’ ” Dec. 18). Here was a family where a mother and father cared for a son who required 24/​7 care for more than 50 years and who by all reports never received services to help them.

When a child is born with or acquires a disability or chronic medical issue, family caregivers dedicate the rest of their lives to caring and advocating for them. This requires physical and emotional strength that others cannot imagine. Families often provide this care alone, especially when one parent leaves or dies. Family caregivers save our state and federal government billions of dollars by providing services that their family members are entitled to yet do not ask for or receive.

In Pennsylvania, approximately 14,000 people with intellectual disabilities are on the waiting list for services, including 1,300 citizens of Allegheny County, with 250 of them having an emergency need for services. It is up to the governor and Legislature to appropriate funding for services for these people and others who have never asked.

This one family’s desperation has resulted in public awareness of the impact that having an affected family member has on tens of thousands of families throughout Pennsylvania. For families who are experiencing the stress of care-giving, please reach out to organizations that can offer emotional support, community services and assistance in planning for the future.

The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh/​ACHIEVA
South Side

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