In reading the sad story of Karin Moller’s suicidal feelings and tragic death, I was struck by the mention that she had taken care of her mother, who had dementia, and that her father had recently been diagnosed as well (“Woman killed by police had said she wanted to be shot,” Dec. 11).

I wonder whether these factors played a role in her despair. Having cared for her mother through dementia, what was it like for her to face going through it with her father?

Family (unpaid) caregivers provide more than 80 percent of the long-term care in the U.S. While it can be rewarding, it can also be very stressful. Those who are assisting people with dementia, in particular, are at high risk for depression, physical ailments, emotional strain and exhaustion.

Caregivers may not be aware that there are supports available to them. The Family Caregiver Support Program at the Southern Maine Agency on Aging (1-800-427-7411 or at smaaa.org) is part of a national program that offers education, support, problem-solving assistance and help with identifying and accessing resources so that caregivers can take a break, feel better able to provide care and take better care of themselves.

Seeing someone you care about go through the many losses associated with dementia is a painful journey. Family caregivers don’t have to go it alone.

Ann O’Sullivan

coordinator, Family Caregiver Support Program

Southern Maine Agency on Aging

Scarborough