She’s 63 years old. She should have had a beautiful retirement with her husband.

 

MJ: Why is there a need for an initiative like the Dementia Care Relief Program?

LMR: When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it starts off with being confused and forgetting little things. But that stage only lasts for so long, and after that, the person forgets how to walk, how to talk, how to chew, how to swallow, how to dress themselves, how to go to the bathroom, how to clean themselves.


And so the amount of care that is needed is so extreme that the effect on loved ones … it makes them have to quit their jobs. They may lose their jobs. They themselves get sick. It’s emotional stress, it’s physical stress. My mother is essentially a 130-lb. baby at this point. They need to lift her. You can’t care for someone alone. People need help.


MJ: Are there any gaps in healthcare you’re hoping to fill with a program like this?

LMR: In the States, social services are unfortunately quite lacking. So for us it’s about giving people something that they can’t get from their government. And just in general, it’s an extraordinary expense on anyone to have to have in-home care. We want to alleviate that stress for people who can’t quite afford it.


MJ: Can you give our readers a sense of what the program entails?

Jeff Huber, president and CEO of Home Instead: People will apply for a grant and if they’re awarded a grant we’ll send a caregiver into their home to provide relief.


MJ: How many families are you hoping that it will serve in the first year?

LMR: The goal is to help as many families as we can.

JH: The Home Instead Senior Care Network has generously donated close to a million dollars in free care on top of the money that we raise.


MJ: Lauren, how has your experience informed your work contributing to a program like this?

LMR: I’ve unfortunately seen first-hand how devastating this disease can be. And it only fuels my fire to keep going until there’s an end.

I was with my mother yesterday. And it’s so astounding that someone who taught the first grade for 35 years, someone who taught children to read and write, can no longer walk or talk or make eye contact or eat on her own, or dress herself. That’s not right. She’s 63 years old. She should have had a beautiful retirement with her husband instead of him caring for her daily.


MJ: What advice can you offer to caregviers?

JH: Seventy percent of people who have the disease are cared for at home. Most people don’t even identify as a caregiver, don’t realize that gradually they’re slipping more and more into this role. So my advice to caregivers is to reach out, get some help, connect with others.

Go to helpforalzheimersfamilies.com. There are all kinds of resources, links. There’s an app you can download.  Just understand and research and reach out more than anything.

LMR: I think the best thing I’ve done is to share my story and connect with other people. Anyone who’s out there and feels alone, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell someone what you’re going through because chances are they’ll understand and you’ll be able to provide support for each other.


Home Instead Senior Care has chapters across America, and in every Canadian province except Newfoundland. Visit the website for more information on chapter locations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ8jpJERoaQ

This interview has been condensed and edited. 

Photo credit: Brian To / WENN.


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Megan Jones

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