It’s been reported that 29% of the U.S. population, or 65 million Americans are providing unpaid care to the ill, disabled or elderly, often to family members. To address this issue, assists 1000 caregivers of older adults in Brooklyn each year, providing free of charge respite care, including home care and group respite, supplemental assistance and access to ongoing peer support groups, which are offered in person and by telephone.
Just over 18 months ago, Aldo learned that Lisa, his wife of 65 years, was suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease. As he assumed the role of primary caregiver, he felt alone, depressed and helpless. In his own words “it was a horror.” When he joined JASA’s Brooklyn Caregiver Respite Program six months ago, he found comfort and community with peers undergoing similar challenges. Since Lisa can’t be left alone, Aldo takes advantage of the bi-weekly meetings via phone, usually with two to six other participants. This invaluable support has helped him resume some of his favorite activities, including overseeing the Enrico Caruso Museum, a collection of the legendary singer’s rare recordings and memorabilia, which he has lovingly curated for 25 years, located just above their apartment in Brooklyn.
Patricia is a retired special education teacher, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over 10 years ago. She has found that her work with special needs children has provided a unique perspective in caring for her mother, who faces many of the same basic daily challenges such as walking and feeding and dressing herself. Patricia lives in the same house with her parents and siblings and is the primary caregiver. She attends JASA’s support group in person where she gains invaluable insight listening to others.
As we approach National Caregivers Appreciation Day enjoy this interview with JASA’s Lois Mirkowski.