Dementia Caregiver Support Services
One night, I woke up and my husband was gone. He’d simply walked out of the house in the middle of the night in his pajamas. I was terrified for the next two hours, until the police found him a few blocks away, confused and scared, wearing a stranger’s coat.
It’s scary that I can’t take my eyes off mom for more than a minute without worrying she’ll get into something dangerous. We’ve had to take “babyproofing” to a whole new level – even removing the knobs off the stove so she won’t burn the house down trying to make breakfast.
It’s difficult to imagine watching someone you love slowly slip away, losing their memory and the ability to care for themselves. Sadly, this is a heartbreaking reality for more than 6,000 families in our community who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. As the disease progresses, caregivers take on more and more responsibilities for their loved ones – keeping them safe, helping with everyday activities like bathing, dressing and eating, and dealing with behavioral challenges like anxiety, depression and wandering. There’s no cure for dementia, and the disease is ultimately fatal.
The mental, emotional and financial stresses of taking care of their loved ones often has a devastating impact on caregivers’ health. A Stanford University study found 40% of Alzheimer’s caregivers die before their loved one with the diagnosis. With the wellness and quality of life of both caregivers and their loved ones in mind, Respite Care Charleston (RCC) exists to provide support and services to those living with dementia through support groups, day programs and other outreach efforts.
For many caregivers, support groups become like second families who can relate to their unique challenges and serve as a lifeline during difficult times. RCC facilitates nine caregiver support group meetings monthly for spouses, children and others caring for those with dementia and two meetings specifically for those in the early stages of dementia. Participants learn about symptoms and progression, share updates, ask questions about changes and behavioral challenges, problem solve, plan for the future and provide one another emotional support in safe, confidential setting.
To offer caregivers a break from their responsibilities, RCC also offers respite day programs five days a week at several locations in Charleston County. From 10am – 1:50pm, individuals with dementia can spend time with volunteers and staff working on puzzles and projects, sharing stories and jokes, participating in art and music therapy, and enjoying the company of others in a safe and relaxed setting. Our team works tirelessly to accommodate the individual needs of each participant, making every day meaningful and enjoyable. A non-profit organization, RCC raises funds to keep program fees affordable and provide scholarships to ensure no family is turned away due to financial hardship.
To learn more about Respite Care Charleston’s programs and services, to volunteer or to donate to support families living with dementia, visit www.RespiteCareCharleston.org or call 843.647.7405.