Marco Dementia Respite adds new program

Jill Yris
Special to the Eagle
The MDR Caregiver Support Group will be held Mondays, 10:30 a.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church

Due to increased demand, Marco Dementia Respite will add a new program to meet another critical need on Marco Island. The MDR Caregiver Support Group will be held Mondays, 10:30 a.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 350 S. Barfield Dr., Marco Island.

“Dementia caregivers go from active lifestyles to finding themselves in a 24/7 consuming caretaker role. They become homebound and suffer anxiety, depression and often physical injury. From an emergency response EMS prospective,” said retired Fire Chief and MDR supporter Mike Murphy, “caregivers often suffer injuries from back injuries, fractures, exhaustion and other illnesses, are taken to emergency rooms, end up in hospitals with major medical events and, as in hip fractures of elderly, they often have a high mortality rate.”

More:3 To Know: Trianon sells, Petito lawsuit and a ‘tripledemic’

More:3 To Do: Drive thru light show, comedy on Marco, library event

More:SWFLA To Do List: ‘Steel Magnolias’ at Gulfshore Playhouse, big November happenings

As of 2020, AARP estimates there are more than 53 million family caregivers across the United States. “I feel overwhelmed,” is the phrase heard from most caregivers. Anger, exhaustion, even lack of concentration are all symptoms of caregiver burnout. Too much stress can be harmful for the caregiver, reports the Alzheimer’s Association, and most caregivers aren’t aware that they are breaking down.

“Each time I attend I come away with a new way of dealing with everyday issues,” said Marco Island resident Susan Gardner about the caregiver group. “I feel nourished and comforted.” Susan’s husband Joe joins MDR while Susan is at the support group where, she noted, both men and women feel safe to express their feelings.

The MDR Caregiver Support Group will be held Mondays, 10:30 a.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church

The Marco Dementia Respite program acknowledges the need for helping and uplifting caregivers. The support group currently has approximately 18 caregivers attending and is group directed including encouragement on when and how to seek outside help, the knowledge that others also feel isolated and that caregiving for a loved one can be physically, emotionally and financially draining.

"In the short time we have been meeting I have seen so much ministry take place,” said Rev. Daphne Johnson, from Wesley United Methodist Church. “We don't talk about God or faith unless it is brought up by one of the caregivers because we want to respect the diverse views of the group. But the ministry I see taking place in the caring, listening, sharing and empathy is exactly what I feel God has called us to do here on Marco Island. It touches my heart when I see the participants sharing their faith and helping one another by bringing dinner to someone or sharing resources. I see God's handiwork in our time together each time we meet."

There is a critical need to give these caregivers survival tools and the MDR Caregivers Support Group allows these individuals the opportunity to share their lessons learned and provide some of the tools from their toolbox that can help others.

The MDR Caregiver Support Group will be held Mondays, 10:30 a.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church

In addition to the support group, the Marco Dementia Respite program is held Mondays, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Wesley United Methodist Church, 350 S. Barfield Dr., Marco Island. Because MDR falls under the 501(C)3 umbrella of WUMC, tax-deductible donations are critical to allow MDR to continue and expand and can be made online at www.MarcoDementiaRespite.org or sent to Marco Dementia Respite, 350 S. Barfield Dr., Marco Island, Fl 34145. Caregivers of potential participants are encouraged to call 239-330-MDR3 (6373) to begin the screening process and secure a place on the wait list for when MDR expands to an additional day each week.

For additional information, contact MDR at 239-330-MDR3 (6373).