CLEVELAND — When Jan Castora’s wife Josephine was battling a form of dementia, all he could think about was keeping her in their home “for her comfort, for her safety and for her dignity.”
He would get her up in the morning, help her get dressed, cook breakfast, help her with her hygiene. But he soon realized that he needed help. Over time, Mrs. Castora lost her ability to speak. She also lost control of her hands, arms and legs. At first, she could balance on her legs with help. Then because she couldn’t walk, someone would have to pick her up from her wheelchair to where she needed to go.
He hired a couple of ladies to help - to give him regular breaks from caregiving. They added to the support that Hospice was providing.
It was a lifesaver.
Josephine Castora died on Oct. 7, 2019 of aphasia frontotemporal dementia. Today, Castora is paying it forward. The Strongsville man donated $1,000,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association to create a caregiver relief program. The Jan & Josephine Castora Family Caregiver Relief Program pays for agency caregivers to assist families needing help caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
The agency aides can provide companion care or personal care services such as bathing, dressing and grooming. The intent of the program is to allow caregivers to take regular breaks to tend to their physical, emotional and mental health.
Rebecca Hall, Program Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter, said, “This fund is going to help so many individuals in our 22-county area of northern Ohio, there is criteria to be eligible for the funding, but please reach out to us because you may not be aware of all of our different resources.”
Eighty-three percent of care at home is provided by family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers. In addition, according to the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Nearly 75 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are somewhat or very concerned about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.
- Over 1 in 3 dementia caregivers say their health has gotten worse due to their care responsibilities.
- Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high. As many as 40 percent of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias suffer from depression.
The caregiver relief program is for caregivers who currently do not have paid help. To find out about eligibility requirements, go to alz.org/cleveland/carerelief or call 216-206-8389.
Caregiver support and details on Alzheimer’s disease is the subject of this weeks episode of the ‘Health Yeah! With Monica Robins’ podcast. You can find it, download and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and watch the video version on WKYC’s YouTube page.
Donations are a big driver for the multitude of programs the Alzheimer’s Association provides. There is another event this Thursday, called ‘Light It Up Purple’ at the Lorain Palace Theater and sponsored by Sprenger Health Care Systems. Click HERE for more information.
You can watch the full episode of 'Health Yeah! With Monica Robins' in the player below.