If the trend continues, statistics from the Mayo Clinic indicate that the current number of people suffering from dementia will explode from 4.5 million to more than 9 million by 2050.
The Tender has been providing care to frail seniors and persons with Alzheimer’s disease/dementia in Burlington County NJ since 1977. Over the past 40+ years we have seen our population grow from a small group of frail seniors looking for socialization to a group that is dementia oriented. The name, The Tender, refers to the small boat (a tender) that ferries passengers from the shore to the waiting ship, a gentle metaphor for the journey of aging. In addition, in 2001 we added a volunteer based transportation program to provide rides for frail, homebound seniors to medical appointments and grocery shopping allowing them to remain independent rather than be forced into institutions.
Most of our clients come from Burlington County with 98% living with a family member. Many live with an elderly, ill spouse and most live with adult children who have spouses and young children of their own. This multi-generational living situation is stressful at best but with the addition of advancing dementia, wandering and incontinence it quickly becomes overwhelming. The Tender not only provides a safe, caring place for the client but also a window of time free from worry for the caregiver.
The most recent problem we’ve confronted is caring for the caregivers. We established a support program, CARES (Compassion, Access, Respite, Education & Support), which includes a monthly group meeting that offers care, information and education and allows caregivers to voice the overwhelming issues they face on a daily basis; this interactive web site and a lending library with dementia specific resources.
Virtually all of our clients are at imminent risk of institutionalization.