«Some time ago I accepted a proposal, which was also a challenge: to become a caregiver to my aunt suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Caregiver This is how I started to take care of her daily, by helping her with the meals and with the cleaning, besides offering her company.
Being near to her I have lived and am living with pain the slow and progressive deterioration of her identity. I accept her relying on me. In moments of lucidity, she asks me to be the one to understand each of her losses. By going through the sufferings, I experienced personally the void the solitude, the fears and the inhibitions. I have also discovered “the emptiness” of the institutions. In this situation I was strengthened by thinking of Jesus Crucified and Forsaken, who continued to love also in the suffering.
Three years ago, I asked the geriatrician, a specialist in Alzheimer and who takes care of my aunt, to deal with this disease together with me in a different way. Through this comparison patient-doctor-doctor-family, the desire to create an Association was born and which will be able to give a collective response to this suffering. At first there were only two of us: the doctor and myself. Then I contacted some friends and ten of them joined. Se we legally constituted an association: “New Humanity – “The house of dreams”. In fact there is the need of dreaming, but if one dreams on his own it is easy that the dream remains a dream. If you are in many, learning to share the sufferings and the needs, then that dream becomes a reality.
The purpose of the Association is to keep alive the attention on the problem of dementia and how to deal with it: Alzheimer is a disease, which we live as a real challenge to accept and to win, with the collaboration of all the protagonists: patients, families, society and Institutions.
Our first task is a course for volunteers and the relatives of the patients with the title: “The Alzheimer’s disease and the other dementias”. Free contribution is given by physicians, psychologists, and hospital volunteers during the meetings and in which thirty persons participate,
At the end of the course, the idea of opening and “Alzheimer’s Café” was born: we wanted to live as a family together with the patients, not in the solitude of the four walls of the house, but in a coffee shop, a symbol of social life! Thus we accompanied them in the bar to share a hot chocolate or a fruit juice. Currently we accompany 35, of whom 20 are suffering from Alzheimer. One of them had not been out of the house for three years and another one did not want to participate because he did not have shoes, he accepted when we told him that he could even come in his slippers.
The news of this initiative soon spread in the city. Shortly after, even the Bishop wanted to pay us a visit to share the festive evening of our first anniversary of the Association, with us. He was interested in our activities even the Department of Social Services, who for a long time had sent us a car with a driver to transport our friends to meet at the Alzheimer’s Café.
In the summer of 2009, we had another idea. In the nearby town of Foggia there is an Institute for promoting horseracing. So we organized a visit to the old coach house and the stables. We have asked the parents of the patients to bring their wedding albums. The time was in fact the one in which coaches were used even for weddings. It was a success and the joy was great. We wanted to repeat the experience with a novelty the following year: we adopted some donkeys who were destined to be put to sleep, to stimulate the relational capabilities of the patients.
Our Association also organizes annual courses for the training of health professionals and support to the patient’s relatives. These courses are increasingly improving and are an occasion to spread the Ideal. Currently we are in 70, between patients and volunteers and we are self-supporting.
Amongst the therapeutic proposals, then we take advantage of aromatherapy and music-therapy. The whole town knows about our experience and like us many are available if we need help. We even thought of offering our service to the town community by giving a training course to foreign caregivers entitled: “Taking care of lost memory.
Read more: Association “The house of dreams” – San Severo (Foggia) – Italy