By Keisha L. Jackson
Basic Training — often called boot camp — prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental and emotional. It gives service members the basic tools necessary to perform the roles that will be assigned for the duration of their tour (www.todaysmilitary.com). Like the military, wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a boot camp to help prepare “caregiver recruits” for the financial battles they may face when caring for a loved one diagnosed with dementia?
Loretta Veney was a thirty-five-year security management professional progressing financially. In 2006, her mother was diagnosed with early-stage dementia. At the time, Veney didn’t see the need to look into financial assistance in her community or put her mother’s name on a list for any programs (e.g., financial subsidy, meals on wheels, adult day care, medical equipment). Three years later, there were 23,692 ahead of her mother. As Veney’s finances declined, it took another eight years to reach the top of the list.
Alz.org estimates, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $355 billion this year. While African Americans make up 13.6% of the U.S. population, they bear one-third (33%) of the nation’s total costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. https://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/
African Americans who must leave the workforce to care for an afflicted family member lose, on average, more than $300,000 in earnings, pensions and Social Security benefits and are more than three times as likely to live in poverty than similarly situated white Americans. https://www.endalznow.org/
“Look into financial assistance programs offered by your county, city, and state. The Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Aging, AARP, and an elder care attorney are great resources.”
“Whatever caregiver boot camp you enlist in… make sure you receive the basic tools necessary to perform the financial roles that may be assigned for the duration of your caregiver “tour of duty.”
Loretta Veney is an author, motivational speaker, and trainer who has delivered over 300 speeches and presentations on dementia and caregiving. She and her mom have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, The Washington Post, The NY Times, AARP Caregiver Stories, as well as a PBS special entitled Alzheimer’s the Caregiver’s Perspective. In 2019, Loretta was selected as Trailblazer of the Year by Johns Hopkins Medicine.