by Lisa Milne, Vice President of Programs
Alzheimer’s Association-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
Right now, in the United States of America, there are over 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease. According to The Shriver Report, sixty percent of caregivers for persons with Alzheimer’s disease are women and many of them say they had no choice in becoming a caregiver. Caregiving takes an enormous toll on a caregiver’s emotional, physical and financial well-being so it’s not surprising that nearly half of all women caregivers report high emotional and physical stress. However, research shows that with supportive services, like those provided by the Alzheimer’s Association-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, caregivers can learn better ways of coping with stressors and therefore be healthier and experience less stress through their caregiving journey. In 2016, our Chapter was awarded funding from the Community Foundation of Southwest Florida to help Female Alzheimer Caregiver’s learn about and engage in the supportive services provided by the Alzheimer’s Association-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. Here is just one example of the success of the program:
Joan* is a caregiver for her mother who has been living with Alzheimer’s disease for 6 years. Joan called our 24/7 helpline to talk to our staff about a recent wandering episode her mother had experienced. Joan could not understand the wandering behavior and why her mother felt she had to leave the house. Our Program Specialist explained to Joan that wandering occurs with nearly sixty percent of those living with Alzheimer’s disease. She also mailed a packet of materials to Joan to explain different ways to redirect the wandering behavior Additionally; she met with Joan in her home to discuss ways to keep her mother from wandering. Joan was directed to a Caregiver Support Group where she continues to learn new ideas to help her in her caregiving journey and she feels she is helping others better care for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. Our Chapter delivers caregiver training classes to caregivers on a variety of subjects and also provides Emergency Respite Care to caregivers who need a break from their caregiving responsibilities.
Joan has reported feeling relieved now that she has a network of people to talk to and learn different ideas from in regards to caring for her mother and she is just one example of the many women Alzheimer caregivers who have called our helpline, received a one-on-one care consultation, attended a support group and/or an education program or used our Emergency Respite Care program since our program began last Spring. It has been so rewarding to see the impact our organization, with the support of the Community Foundation of Southwest Florida, is making in the community and I look forward to hearing the many powerful testimonies from women Alzheimer caregivers, like Joan!
The Alzheimer’s Association-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Programs can be accessed by calling (800) 272-3900 or www.alz.org/flgulfcoast.
*name has been changed to protect the identity of our client.
This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle. We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers.
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.