May 2, 2012 for Alzheimer's Caregivers, Respite Care

It's time for the members of the Alzheimer's Community to get organized around real issues that affect the lives of Alzheimer's caregivers each day.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

While I was in New York speaking at the Seeing Alzheimer's Differently symposium I mentioned several ideas I have about Alzheimer's and respite care. One attendee, Christopher Nadeau of the New York Memory Center, was very enthusiastic about my ideas.

After considerable thought, I now elevate this concept up to my number one idea -- for Alzheimer's caregivers.

Some of you might be familiar with, it is a dating service for singles. Basically, you describe yourself, describe what you are looking for, and include some pictures of yourself with the intention of meeting someone.

Here is how describes what they do -- Our mission is simple: to help singles find the kind of relationship they’re looking for.

How does this apply to Alzheimer's caregivers and respite?

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One of the biggest complaints, sometimes gripes, we get here on the ARR is the inability of caregivers to get a moment to themselves. A moment, let alone lets say 4 hours, or a day.

Here is a recent comment from one of our readers -- "And, when I do get a hour or (rarely) a weekend off to feel "normal" and outside the world of dementia ... I just want some normal in my life".

So I asked myself, why don't Alzheimer's caregivers team up? Yeah team up.

For example, lets say I could advertise that I am looking for a fellow caregiver to team up with to get some respite care. I read through a list of caregivers that are interested and try to find someone that seems similar to me, and has a patient in a stage of dementia similar to Dotty.

We contact each other via email, and then we get on the phone. If we agree we have a fit, we decide to meet at some public place, patient included, to discuss the possibilities.

Obviously there are two issues for each side. First, do I feel like I can trust my mother with this other caregiver, does s/he trust me.

Second, does it appear that the two patients, in my case Dotty, can get along. For me kinda simple, can they yak away with each other comfortably.

If so we have a match.

Then we start to make arrangements. First step, meet up somewhere like McDonald's for an ice cream or coffee and test it out.

Next, one caregiver agrees to take care of the other patient for let's say two hour to start. So with Dotty in tow, I pick up our counter party patient and go do something. Or, the counter party gets dropped off at our home for a couple of hours.

So one caregiver takes care of two persons (patients), and the other caregiver gets two hours off. If the arrangement works you expand the time. Imagine, four hours to do as you wish.

So in a nutshell, you have a series of dates just like you do on, starting with the meet-up, and then extending the relationship if it seems like a good fit.

Won't work you say? Well in Palm Beach County, Florida, there are about 60,000 persons in the same boat I am in.

Now for sure, someone is gonna try and crap on my parade. Count on it.

Are you already thinking about the legal liability? Well, Match has an agreement you sign that covers this. So for Alzheimer's caregivers would do the same thing.

I learned a long time, it is very costly to invent, less costly to do something that already exists and tailor it to your own needs. So we would keep this simple and use the existing model. Who knows, maybe we could get some help from are you listening?

Don't bother crapping on my parade.

If you can add to the discussion, or if you know an organization or foundation that might help us explore this idea and get it started, shoot your comment in below, or use the contact button and send me an email.

They say there are 15,000,000 Alzheimer's caregivers. If only one percent participated that would be 150,000 people.

The bottom line here is simple and straight forward, we need to start taking care of ourselves because no one else is going to do it.

It's time for the members of the Alzheimer's Community to get organized around real issues that affect the lives of Alzheimer's caregivers each day.

Respite is a real issue.

In closing, mostly everyone makes the same complaint when it comes to respite.  I can't afford it. They don't pay for it. There is not enough money to pay for it.

Well each of us has time.

We can barter our time with another caregiver, or better yet a group of caregivers, and it won't cost us one read cent to get the respite we all need.

Go ahead, sound off below in the Add New Comment area.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,511 articles with more than 297,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room