New County Program Offers Relief for Alzheimer’s, Dementia Caregivers

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By Tom Christensen, County of San Diego Communications Office

A new San Diego County program is offering sorely needed relief to those caring for local residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

The new Respite Voucher Program, started at the request of Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, provides family members and others who need a break with a voucher to cover half the cost of hiring a fill-in caregiver.

“As the number of San Diegans with Alzheimer’s disease grows, so does the strain on many families as they struggle to help their loved one deal with this devastating illness,” Jacob said. “Caring for a mother or father with dementia takes its own mental and physical toll, and this new initiative is one way we can help them recharge.”

The program is run by two local groups, Southern Caregiver Resource Center and Coast Care Partners. They provide respite services and support, with the County and each caregiver splitting the expense 50/50.

“Through 20 years of providing care to San Diegans with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia we have repeatedly seen emotional and financial barriers to caregivers receiving the help they need, and this program will provide relief to those families,” said David Chong, Coast Care Partners executive director.

The hope is to provide relief to caregivers who are not eligible for In-Home Supportive Services and don’t have the means themselves to pay for respite care.

“This public/private cost-sharing respite partnership will afford family caregivers with an opportunity to obtain new and/or additional respite care at a reduced cost – only paying for 50 percent of the service unit cost; thus, providing financial relief that will help offset the stress of caregiving,” said Roberto Velasquez, executive director of the Southern Caregiver Resource Center.

The County Health and Human Services Agency program is the latest improvement to come out of The Alzheimer’s Project, the County-led initiative launched in 2014 to find a cure for the disease and address its impact on families and the community.

Chairwoman Jacob and Supervisor Kristin Gaspar are leading the effort, working with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, philanthropist Darlene Shiley, world-class brain researchers, law enforcement officials and others.

More than 84,000 County residents have the disease or another type of dementia. It is the region’s third leading cause of death.

For more information about the new voucher program, call:
◦Southern Caregiver Resource Center: 858-268-4432
◦Coast Care Partners: 619-350-2768
◦Aging and Adult Services Call Center: 800-339-4661

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office.

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