We are seeing a growing number of Alzheimer’s diagnoses within our Southwest Florida communities. Many hide their disease for years, as they rely on the kindness of others to get through their day. More often than not, it is a spouse, a family member or even a neighbor who is the caregiver.

The stress of being a caregiver of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease or another memory issue is much more taxing then anyone can imagine. The caregiver is always on duty, even their sleep is interrupted by fears that their loved one will wander out of the house in the middle of the night. Fortunately, many new electronic devices and government-sponsored alert systems have been developed to assist in the detection and/or tracking of a wandering individual, but that comes as little comfort to the caregiver in the event of a search.

There are a few options for relief for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Some senior centers and churches offer adult day care a few hours a week. The Alzheimer’s Association offers some relief in a crisis situation, but their funding is often limited. Home health services are the only available source of relief for many,  allowing them the time to shop, attend church and social events or take a necessary break, but not everyone can afford it.

For the past three years I have been associated with one program that give caregivers an afternoon off. Our Charlotte Elder Affairs Networking (OCEAN) in Charlotte County, FL sponsors this program annually. For one afternoon the caregiver enjoys a stress free afternoon on a Charlotte Harbor cruise. Lunch is provided, games are played and door prizes awarded to the guests. Home health care is provided for those caregivers that can’t afford it. This may not seem like much to those that have not been touch by this disease, but to those who have this is an invaluable gift. I personally received many letters and thank you notes from individuals that participated. Many exit the cruise talking about next year.

I’m sure this is one of many programs. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association in your area and get involved in your community. Someone out there needs your help.


God Bless!

Beth Hague, Co-Founder