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Dementia Respite Support Grows with Need

Dementia Respite Support Grows with Need

By Dr. Jaclyn Faffer

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases is projected to more than double over the next 30 years. Thanks to the generous support of community minded groups like the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Naples Senior Center is able to address this growing crisis.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation provides critical funding to support our Dementia Respite Support program for seniors in Collier and southern Lee counties who have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias (ADRD) and their caregivers. This weekly four-hour program offers a safe and stimulating environment providing activities for older adults with early to mid-stage dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s costing the nation $290 billion. By 2050, this population is projected to rise to 14 million with the costs as high as $1.1 trillion. It’s further estimated someone in the United States develops the disease every 65 seconds.

Dementia related diseases are currently the third leading cause of death behind heart attacks and strokes and the leading cause of disability among seniors. Dementia does not discriminate between wealthy and poor. We see this all the time in our dementia respite groups where we’ll have a former head of Porsche sitting next to a former Las Vegas cocktail waitress. And it’s not just the individuals who are affected.

Studies show caregivers of loved ones with ADRD experience higher rates of physical illness, social isolation, emotional distress and financial hardship compared to non-caregivers in the population. Research shows 40 percent to 70 percent of family caregivers suffer from clinical depression and are at a greater risk of developing a chronic illness. What caregivers have in common is the need for support.

The Naples Senior Center provides eight weekly Dementia Respite Support groups in the community for individuals with a medical diagnosis of ADRD. The groups are designed to help enhance communication skills, to improve an individual’s mood, to help access long term memory and to increase socialization.

There also is an Early Memory Loss Group for individuals with mild cognitive impairment, significant concerns about their memory or very early dementia. In addition, we offer quarterly Caregivers Boot Camps and weekly Caregivers Support Groups. These programs are designed to provide caregivers with:

  • Tools that will enable them to provide self-care including ways to reduce and better manage stress;
  • Tools to better manage the care of their loved ones;
  • To provide an outlet for socialization and be able to experience social support from other caregivers.

Comments that we receive from caregivers reinforce the need for this program within the community. Caregivers share with staff that their family members are benefiting significantly from this support. As one caregiver stated, “She is doing better since she started coming here. Now we can cook together a little bit and she is happier and we have new things to talk about” in reference to the activities that occurred in the group. This dual benefit improves the quality of life for both participants and caregivers.

The Naples Senior Center is the only human services agency of its kind, providing “one-stop shop” programs and services addressing the emotional and social needs of seniors in Collier and southern Lee counties. We serve individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs. Since opening our doors in January 2014, we have seen an increase in the depth and scope of need for comprehensive senior services in this region.

To accommodate future growth, we have embarked on “A New Era for Seniors” capital campaign to raise $15 million to build and equip a new state-of-the-art facility serving the community. A lead $5-million gift by local philanthropists Patty and Jay Baker puts the capital campaign on a successful track and will inspire others to help in the cause. Additional support is being provided by the Brookdale Foundation, members of the Naples Senior Center Board and a matching grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation.

For additional information on the Naples Senior Center and its comprehensive programs and social services for area seniors and their families, call 239-325-4444 or visit

This summer, Florida Weekly has graciously allowed us, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, to spotlight the nonprofit organizations funded through the Foundation’s 2019 competitive grant cycle.  Funds made available for these grants are graciously given by donors through Field of Interest Funds. Many of these donors are deceased and have left instructions to the Foundation on the causes they care about and then rely on the Foundation team to address the communities’ greatest needs within the established criteria by the donor.  We have asked these grantees to share their stories. We are pleased to partner with these change-makers.


The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit









Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!