The Patterson Foundation's Journey Leads us to Connecting Caregivers

Posted on September 08, 2011 by Michael Corley

Twenty months ago, we began the journey of honoring the Patterson family legacy by exploring the challenges associated with dementia. Dorothy Patterson had dementia in her later years, and because of her caring nature, we know she would have wanted to help anyone experiencing this disorder.

With the expertise of Bruce Robinson, MD and Kathleen Houseweart, MBA, both of the Memory Disorder Clinic at Sarasota Memorial Health System, we began our effort. The challenge was employing the The Patterson Foundation's tenets (collaboration, connective tissue, financial thrivability, leveraging resources, etc.) and not developing a solution too soon.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with nearly 100 people about this initiative and was able to gain an appreciation for the challenges, limitations and opportunities. With the help of the following two questions, we narrowed the focus of the initiative:

1) How do we put patients and caregivers in control of dementia instead of dementia being in control of them?

2) “What do I do now?” A question that is often asked by dementia caregivers.

These two questions have one common thread – the caregiver.

We realized that until a cure for the various causes of dementia is found, there is an opportunity to make a difference by focusing on the caregiver. Specifically, there is an opportunity to make sure the caregiver appreciates his/her role and has the information necessary to continue to function and experience a quality of life.

In our research, we found that while there is a lot of information on caregiving, there is no consistent way to find information about the local resources available in a community. Or better stated, there is no easy way for the caregivers of tomorrow to identify what help they may or may not need and then to identify the local resources for doing so. (We found that even people working in the healthcare system struggle with getting this information.)

As a result of everything just mentioned, we will continue to focus our efforts on the caregiver – all caregivers, not just caregivers of dementia patients – and creating the opportunity for them to have the right information, at the right time and in the right setting within their community.

We have evolved the name of this initiative to Caregiver Connect to better reflect our focus and direction.

Dorothy Patterson would welcome this change. While she did have dementia in her later years, she was blessed with the resources to have caregivers help her maintain her independence and privacy. She would very likely want her resources to help others experience the same.


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