Caregivers with dementia in northeast Ohio need support: Mary Ertle

Guest columnist Mary Ertle is the program director for the Cleveland area and Greater Eastern Ohio chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can feel overwhelming, exhausting and trying. You can see the weariness in their eyes, and sometimes the despair.

If you watch, you will also see the resilience and unreserved love that is at the heart of what they do every day, despite the struggle.

There is hope — and help available.

The Jan & Josephine Castora Family Caregiver Assistance Program provides free assistance to caregivers who currently cannot afford to hire paid help to give them a break from caregiving.

The program pays for non-medical home care services for caregivers with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who provide day-to-day care for a loved one. The program provides caregivers with regular breaks, allowing them to focus on their own physical, emotional and social needs.

To learn more about eligibility criteria, email [email protected]

or call the Cleveland Area Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association at 216-206-8389.

The sacrifices made by caregivers to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias are enormous and demanding.

Nationally, 83% of care for people with dementia at home is provided by family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers.

Additionally, according to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association:

• People 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia, but some live up to 20 years with the disease. Caregiving for many years can take a heavy toll on the caregiver.

• Nearly 75 percent of caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are somewhat or very concerned about maintaining their own health since becoming caregivers.

• More than one in three caregivers say their health has deteriorated due to their caregiving responsibilities.

• Almost 60% of caregivers with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high. Up to 40% of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias suffer from depression.

I cannot begin to describe the need for caregiver support and assistance in Northeast Ohio. Every family I meet has their own caregiver story and personally understands the growing need to support those in caregiver roles.

Our community can also reach out to help the hundreds of dementia caregivers in northeast Ohio. Cook them a meal, volunteer to sit with the person with Alzheimer’s to give the caregiver a break, cut their grass.

Don’t ask if there is anything you can do to help. Offer to do something specific.

Every little gesture counts. They need you. They need your support.

Readers are invited to submit opinion page essays on topics of regional or general interest. Send your 500-word essay for review to Ann Norman at [email protected] Essays should include a brief biography and photo of the author. Essays disproving today’s topics are also welcome.


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