James Faison learned from a friend that he could get a little help with the expenses of caring for his wife, Marilyn, as she battled dementia. Faison is his wife’s full-time caregiver. When he’s not with her, she attends an adult day care center in Fulton County.
The Laona M. Kitchen Foundation is set up to help caregivers such as Faison, who need a break emotionally and financially from caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
Faison, who had never heard of the foundation before, applied for and received a $500 voucher to put toward the day care expenses on behalf of his wife. It was much needed and appreciated, he said.
Providing the funds for short-term respite care has been the mission of the Laona M. Kitchen Foundation since its beginnings in 2012. Gary Kitchen started the nonprofit in memory of his mother, who died in 2011 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He knew first-hand the stress families take on when caring for a loved one suffering with progressive dementia and wanted to do something to give them a break.
Since 2013 the Marietta-based foundation has helped more than 1,000 families by providing a $500 respite care voucher. The money goes directly to the cost of dealing with dementia so the family can take some time off.
“We want to help those folks who are drowning and in over their head,” Kitchen said. “This gives the caregiver a break so they can see beyond the horizon.”
Full-time caregivers for a family member or friend diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia can apply for the voucher through the following link on the foundation’s website, lmkfoundation.org.
The stipend can be used in one of three ways:
» Hiring an in-home care provider, which typically costs from $18 to $21 an hour;
» Using an adult day care center, with costs ranging from $50 to $65 a day;
» Placing the loved one in an assisted-living facility for three days, which will take the entire voucher amount. Kitchen said a three-day break allows families to get away, some taking a short vacation for the first time in many years.
The family is responsible for making care arrangements, and the money goes directly to the respite care provider, not to the family. It must be used within 60 days of being awarded.
Most of these families have the belief that “nobody can take care of my loved one better than I can,” Kitchen said. “But if you don’t take care of yourself, you aren’t going to be able to care for them.”
The foundation has already awarded 250 vouchers this year and has a waiting list of families seeking help. About 10 to 15 applications come in every week, Kitchen said. Past recipients can apply every 12 months.
“Obviously we can’t supply all the needs. We don’t have the funds to help all of these families,” Kitchen said.
The nonprofit raises money through an annual golf tournament in September, a casino night in March and other fundraisers. It also accepts donations.
Another mission of the nonprofit is to educate families about the progressive disease and show them how to get the help they need. Kitchen said caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s brings a lot of stress, and in survey after survey, family members say it has affected their relationships and jobs. Many caregivers have to cut back on their work hours, or quit their jobs altogether.
“People feel alone. They don’t understand that there are groups out there to help them and that they’re not alone,” he said.
2018 LMK FOUNDATION CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT
» Friday, Sept. 14, BridgeMill Athletic Club, 1190 Bridge Mill Ave, Canton.
» 4-person scramble, shotgun start at 1 p.m.; Registration and buffet lunch begins at 11 a.m.
» Sign up by Sept. 7
» For fees and sponsorships go to lmkfoundation.org
» Money raised supports the Foundation’s Respite Care Voucher Program
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