In thousands of homes across our state, daughters, sons, and friends are devoting much of their lives to providing for a loved one who is suffering from dementia or another debilitating illness. It’s a heart-rending 24-hour job that few people who aren’t experiencing it truly understand. But who cares for the caregivers? We do.
Anthony, his wife Donna, and his sister Rochelle have been caring for their mom, Odester, who has been suffering a slow decline from Alzheimer’s. Over a decade ago Anthony met Dorothea Harris, director of our Culturally Responsive Caregivers program at a conference about Dementia in Minnesota, realizing that they were the only African Americans in a very large room.
That was the start of a long relationship with Dorothea, who began her work in the field as a caregiver herself. She listened to the family, connected them with resources, helped them strategize and sometimes served as mediator when disagreements about Odester’s care arose.
“Any resources we needed, call Dorothea,” Anthony recalled. “’I might not know the answer but hold on. I’ll get you the answer,’ she’d say. She would always point us in the right direction.”
“I wouldn’t have made it without Dorothea,” Anthony said. “Our family wouldn’t have made it.”