Alzheimer’s and dementia has to be part of your retirement planning, whether it affects you, your spouse, or a relative. It could take away your secure retirement if you don’t plan for it… and everyone who listens to this episode will be impacted in some way by this issue.
As a caregiver, John Beck’s passion has become to educate people about how, as a community, we can be caring and accommodating to people with this common condition.
Lisa Bretz, executive director of the nonprofit Area Agency on Aging for North Florida, has been instrumental in creating public awareness for this and many other issues, as well as connecting older adults in need with a variety of assistance programs.
As Lisa says, there is help out there and she tells you where to get it.
Listen in to find out…
Why now is the time to account for dementia (or other long-term care needs) in your retirement plan
The statewide hotline that can connect you to services you may not be aware of
How to make sure you – or a relative – is not a victim
The many ways you can get involved in helping older adults in the community
Mentioned in This Episode: www.aaanf.org
John Curry: Hey folks, welcome to another episode of the Secure Retirement podcast. I'm John Curry. I'm sitting here with two folks today, John Beck and Lisa Bretz. Today we're going to talk about something called dementia. The broad scope using that word dementia. And it's something that every one of us is going to deal with either personally or someone that we know, someone we love and we care about.
During our conversation leading up to this, I learned something from John that was amazing. So John, I'm going to ask you to tell us a little bit about your background, but get into what you're doing now as far as educating our community about the subject of dementia, and share what you talked about regarding the restaurants and your uncle. So John Beck, please.
John Beck: Well, thank you very much John for allowing me to be here today. As you said, John Beck, I've been living in Atlanta for ... Atlanta. Tallahassee for almost 20 years. Used to work for SE Johnson, A Family Company. And my story is that two years ago, I brought in an uncle from Louisiana to Tallahassee who has the mid-stage dementia. And I started and what I loved to do with them and the only truly joy that he has in life, he does live at assisted living facility, he loves to go out to eat. And I take him out to lunch twice a week. And when all of a sudden I start taking him out to lunch and dementia is progressing with him, all of a sudden my world was shrinking.
I could not go to a restaurant without worrying about him, either his dignity, because as a person with dementia, when you take them out to eat, they get agitated very easily in a new environment that they are not familiar with. It may be the lighting in a restaurant. It may be no pictures on the menu. It may be the sound of the restaurant is very loud. And when they do this, they get agitated and they see things that they or they do things that they normally would not have done a year or two years ago.
And because of that, I was embarrassed at some of the things that he would say. And I got embarrassed and all of a sudden one day, I said "Do not get mad at my Uncle Andy, get mad at the disease." And when I used to have a card that said, "Please excuse me, I'm with a person with Alzheimer's." I would give it to the wait staff. And most of the time the wait staff does a phenomenal job. But there are those people that look with him and they roll their eyes. And I said, "This is not right." They need training. The wait staff needs to be trained on how to deal with somebody with dementia.
And for a year I googled everything. What type, is there a dementia-friendly restaurant. And there is none. And three months ago, I ran into Dementia Care and Cure Initiative, which was established in 2015 by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. And they developed a training program for restaurants. And I said, "Thank God. I am relieved of this." I said, "Then this training program, we will go into a restaurant, we will do a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation for management and their wait staff." And this training includes looking at the sign, the symptoms of dementia, how to properly ... what is the word I'm looking for? Properly communicate effectively with our senior citizens, and the resources available for them.
John Curry: Time out for a second. Wouldn't that apply to every business or every organization, not just restaurants?
John Beck: Yes. It will apply. Now hopefully years down the road, we will get to the banks and we will get to the drug stores and we will get to the public grocery stores. But we are not there yet because we do a lot for the caregivers for the training and relief of them, but very little education is done in the business community. They sit there and say, "How does it affect me? My waitresses or staff or my employees are trained." It doesn't apply to them, but it does apply to them. Because about 25% of the people with a form of dementia will not even go to an establishment anymore. Because they give up. Why should I do that?
And those are the people that we should be tracking, and these are the people that, what you and I take for granted, going to a restaurant, or going to a bank, they cannot enjoy.
John Curry: Key point you just made, we take it for granted because we're not aware of it. So you don't know what you don't know.
John Beck: Correct.
John Curry: And that's the problem we have, in 44 years of doing what I do in retirement planning. See there are people who are listening to this, I promise you they're thinking, "Okay, why is Curry interviewing somebody on dementia. That's got nothing to do with my retirement." Yes, it does. It does because if you're the one who gets dementia, and it becomes full-scale Alzheimer's, your life is going to change. Or if it's your spouse. Or if it's the loved one and all of a sudden, you're having to give up your time and your money to take care of them, what just happened to your retirement? It's not so secure anymore.
So what you're talking about, John, impacts everyone. The question is, when do we become aware of this impact? Because that 22-year-old waitperson, who's taking care of your uncle that might lose their cool or roll their eyes, as you said, they don't understand because they're not aware.
John Beck: Correct. They're not aware.
John Curry: So your passion has become to educate people on this topic. That's obvious.
John Beck: Oh yeah, well if you would've told me two years that a form of dementia, a person with it come into my life, I would've said, "No way. No way would I ever be affected by this disease." And all of a sudden, 30 days later, my God, my uncle Andy came into my life. Which is both a gift and it is also a burden. And because of that, as they said, "What's the different between a recession and a depression? A recession is when you're out of the job, a depression is when I'm out of the job." So and it then starts to impact you, my God, your life changes dramatically. And it is how the public respond.
Most people with dementia, they respond to emotion, not logic. Because their brain is shrinking and their brain is dying. So it is that gentle smile. It is that contact. It is talk slowly, talk clearly. Those are the things that impact them. And they say they're not stupid. They may be losing their logic, but they're not stupid. And they realize when that customer, or that wait staff looks at them as, "Oh my God," it changes, it's like a light bulb. It goes on and off and then all of a sudden it even gets worse. So it does have an impact on each and every one of us.
John Curry: It does. You just made me think of something, I was smiling, I was thinking of a lady, she's 91 years old. We were at a meeting one day at lunch, and my colleague is talking real loud to her. And she leans over. Put your hand over here, Lisa. she goes, "Honey, it's okay. I'm old, but I can hear you." And all of a sudden, just because she was old didn't mean she couldn't hear. She said, "My hearing is just fine. I can't see worth a flip. But I can hear just fine." And I laughed so hard I was crying.
John Beck: I think my number one goal is, you just mentioned, is awareness. They come in and they say, "Oh my God, this lady forgets everything. Why is she doing that?" They're not aware that this person has a form of dementia, "They're just forgetful." And no, they're not forgetful. So awareness is number one. And then education and training is number two.
John Curry: Let's address that before we switch over to Lisa here. So you're in this position, or at least your organization is, where you can come in and do training. What does it cost the restaurant to bring you in?
John Beck: Nothing.
John Curry: Very good.
John Beck: The only thing they need to pay for is to have their staff to attend.
John Curry: And that's only a half hour?
John Beck: Which is a bargain.
John Curry: So let's just say that the time to get everybody organized-
John Beck: An hour at the most.
John Curry: An hour.
John Beck: Correct.
John Curry: All right. I would like to speak with folks here at our firm, if I can arrange it, would you come in and do a presentation at one of our meetings?
John Beck: Yes, I would. Be very happy to.
John Curry: We have, when we have a full-scale regional meeting, we'll have maybe, what do you think, Jay, 70 people around? That'd be a great opportunity to spread the word. And we'll do that. Maybe the two of you could do something together sometime.
John Beck: Fantastic.
John Curry: All right. So we're sitting here with Lisa. I'm going to just tell them who you are and I'm going to ask John to do a little bit, because he's invited you to come in. Because originally John and I talked at the economic club and he was sharing his story, and I said, "Oh, that'd be a great topic for a podcast." And he followed up. But Lisa is the executive director for the Area Agency for Aging for north Florida. And I'm going to ask you to tell us more about that in a moment. But John, is there anything you want to say about Lisa before we turn it over to her?
John Beck: One thing, briefly. When I started calling on these 40 to 50 restaurants, I realized that was going to be a one-stop call. After I did the 40, 50, I could go to a thousand more restaurants and I said no, now what we need to do is now we need to make the public aware. How do I, instead of a one-man calling on restaurants, how do we get the word out? How do I sow the seeds? All of a sudden then I started visiting all of the different agencies, the Alzheimer's Project, the Alzheimer's Association, the Area Agency. I wanted to spread the word. And this is where I met Lisa. And I think the first time I met her, we had a very personal conversation. And I said, "My God, Lisa, this is bigger than just dementia. We need to get the word out what you're doing to all the senior citizens. We are the fastest growing population in Leon County, and the state of Florida."
John Curry: And the world, actually.
John Beck: Yes, I believe there's eight people per day coming moving to Florida and half of them are 65 years and older. So Lisa Bretz with the Area Agency, my very good friend, turn it over to you.
John Curry: Please tell us who you are, what you do, a lot of people will not even know who your organization is, so please just tell us what you do and who you are.
Lisa Bretz: Thank you John, and you're absolutely right. Over 40 years of business and people still don't know what an Area Agency on Aging is. We are really a valuable resource to the community in helping connect individuals to information and resources to help people age in place. To help older adults understand how they can get their issues addressed, whether it be they feel they're victims of fraud or scams, or they know that they need some help to take care of themselves at home. What's available that can help them do that? We have personal care services, homemaker services, a whole variety of home and community-based services that can help people remain independent in their homes. Sometimes you just need a little bit of help to be able to do that.
John Curry: How long have you been with the agency?
Lisa Bretz: So April will be 24 years at the agency.
John Curry: 24 years. Walk us through what you have seen, because I got introduced 30-something years ago because my friend Jim Drake way back when, at least 30 years ago, back in the '80s. So just walk us through what you've seen during your time of service there.
Lisa Bretz: Well, our planning and service area covers 14 counties. We're all the way over west to Bay County, and to the east Madison and Taylor. We have a large geographic area, but a very small population of elders when you consider the other parts of the state. When I started with the agency, the majority of elders were really young, they were in the 60 to 64 age group.
John Curry: Excuse a second, how would you define today the age, when someone says elders, what is that? What age? Am I an elder? I'm 66. Am I an elder now?
Lisa Bretz: For our programs and services, you would be potentially eligible to receive the care, yes. So 60 years of age and older is the average age for our programs. Now one program with the Alzheimer's Disease Initiative that ties very well into the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative, we serve individuals as young as 18 years of age and older. So there are individuals who are living with memory impairments even younger than 18, but that's the design of our program.
John Curry: What would you say is the majority of the work that you provide, let's say locally right here in Tallahassee, Leon county, what's the biggest service?
Lisa Bretz: So the largest service that we provide is access to the state-wide Medicaid managed long-term care program. Individuals who are seeking long-term care services through the Medicaid program will contact our agency, we'll conduct a telephone screening, we'll help make sure they understand what documents they're going to need to have in place to complete the eligibility process. And once they're added to our list, each month we'll get notification that we can add additional people to the Medicaid program. We'll contact those individuals and help connect them to an enrollment broker. They can then make a choice of what Medicaid managed care program they want to be enrolled in.
John Curry: Great. So walk us through that process. Either I myself want the care, or somebody I love and care about. Most people don't even ... It goes back to awareness. They don't think about this until it hits them. In our planning, when we're doing retirement planning and the legal document, whatever, sometimes we'll have elder law attorneys get involved and help us with that. But most people don't want to think about it. They don't want to take the time to do it until it's too late. So what advice would you offer people who are listening to this, going, "Wow, that's me. I don't want to talk about it, I'm reluctant to even think about it." What advice would you offer them?
Lisa Bretz: I'd offer them that we have a very valuable resource called the Elder Helpline. It operates state-wide. It's a toll-free number. You'll be connected to the nearest Area Agency on Aging. And you'll talk to an information referral specialist that will listen to what your concerns are, what your questions are. They might provide some of the counseling of available services or help ease your mind to understand there are programs that are designed to help people. Let's talk a little bit more about your situation. We'll figure out does that fit into the mission of the services that we provide. And if so, then they get connected and most likely they'll be connected to a Medicaid benefit counselor on our staff who will help conduct a telephone screening and assessment, help make sure they understand what they're going through this process for. It's not a false hope to put somebody on a wait list. There are prioritization procedures that we follow. So it's a very structured system. And I know hearing wait list can sometimes intimidate people. But when we're talking wait lists, these individuals, if they have high priority, that wait list time could be about 30 days.
John Curry: That's fast.
Lisa Bretz: It's fast. And we're very fortunate to have the structured system in our state. I'm very proud of what Florida's able to accomplish to help people access long-term care.
John Curry: Our purpose with this podcast is to help people, so feel free to give out 800 numbers, websites, anything that you feel people can get. Let's help, give them all the data we can.
Lisa Bretz: I think the best number that people can have in their toolbox when you're talking about aging-related issues is 1-800-96E-LDER. Or 1-800-963-5337.
John Curry: Repeat that one more time.
Lisa Bretz: 1-800-963-5337.
John Curry: Very good. Locally, what would you say is your biggest challenge from the stand point of helping the people in this community? Who needs your services? Or should use your services?
Lisa Bretz: Well the greatest challenge when you're talking about publicly funded services is funding availability.
John Curry: Money.
Lisa Bretz: Money. But honestly, I think one of our greater challenges is that people, it comes back to Dementia Care and Cure Initiative, the same challenge, is awareness. People need to be aware that these are not charity programs. These programs were designed by the Florida legislature and the federal government to address healthy aging. And sometimes to have healthy aging, you need a little bit of help. And that's okay to ask for help. We're here to help those individuals. So a lot of it is that we need to let people know these services exist. And, more importantly, how to access them.
John Curry: So you're a non-profit organization, that you're providing services in conjunction with government services?
Lisa Bretz: Yes, our major funder is the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. They are also the ones who founded the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative. Most of our resources are in conjunction with what the Department of Elder Affairs provides. So we'll have home and community-based services. We also have the Older Americans Act, that's the federal government that funds that program, that the Department of Elder Affairs also oversees the administration of services through that program.
John Curry: Since we're talking about funding and money, some people listen to this and say, "Well, any time you get the feds involved, or state government, legislature and congress involved, they waste a lot of our money." So give us some reassurance from the standpoint from okay, if I wanted to contribute and make a donation, how do I be assured that my money's going to be used wisely and not waisted by these knuckleheads in Tallahassee and Washington?
Lisa Bretz: As a non-profit, I think that's one of the benefits. I can assure you that the money's going back into programs and services. I have 14 wonderful agencies that I can refer you to to invest your donations into that will help individuals have healthy, nutritious meals on a daily basis. Be able to get to the doctor when they need to. Be able to run other essential errands. Transportation, lack of transportation is the major challenge for older adults when they give up the privilege of driving. But just that assurance that those donations help continue to expand our programs.
John Curry: So if somebody were to write you a check for $500 or $1,000, that money stays locally? Or does that go to all 14 counties?
Lisa Bretz: I would encourage them to designate it for which county.
John Curry: They can do that?
Lisa Bretz: Yes, sir.
John Curry: That's great. See, I like that because if someone is thinking, "Okay, I want to help out, but I want to make sure it stays in my community," they can do that.
Lisa Bretz: Yep.
John Curry: And those that are listening, because we have people all across the country listen to this, so that's good to know. All right, what other items would you, since you've got the floor, want to tell our listeners about what you guys do?
Lisa Bretz: We have a whole variety of other educational programs that we can offer the community. One of the larger challenges that we see these days is people being taken advantage of. There are Florida laws that help protect vulnerable elders from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. I think people need to be aware of elder rights. Just because a person, and we can tie this back to individuals with dementia, they are prime targets.
John Curry: Yes, they are.
Lisa Bretz: And we need to make sure that their family and caregivers and the individual themselves understand what their rights are. What does elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation look like and what can you do about it? Who can you report this to? How can your concerns be listened to and your problems resolved?
John Curry: In our world, the financial services world, as management planners, retirement planners, we have to take training so that we can be aware that if somebody, okay, is that person really understanding? Is there any sign of dementia? And there's protocol as to how to handle it. Because if you don't do it properly, you could really upset some people.
Lisa Bretz: Absolutely.
John Curry: Not only the person, but also family. It's not an easy task.
Lisa Bretz: And caregivers, we want to make sure they understand. You're going to get stressed. There's going to be good days, there's going to be bad days with the loved one you're caring for. And you need to keep your emotions in check. And you need to be aware. It's okay if you have a bad day, but how do you handle that bad day so it doesn't cross the line of abuse.
John Curry: I went through that with my mother on Sunday to the point of where I felt like I was 10 years old again being told what to do. Go do this, tell the nurse this, go down and do this, go get my coat. I'm sitting there going, okay, what I really want to say is, "Mom, I'll get it when I'm ready." I didn't. Just went and did it and came back, and then lunch time, helped feed her. So there's a lot there. And I've benefited from the standpoint to help her because my dad had cancer, and as I saw him die, August it'll be four years, he was in hospice and I just saw him deteriorate. And there's just so many needs and there's not enough time or money to go around. And there's no way you can get to everybody. So you just have to be aware and hopefully the people who need it can get to you and find you.
Lisa Bretz: If we're fortunate enough to find wonderful volunteers like Mr. Beck, we can make those dollars go so much further. There's always a need for volunteers in any non-profit, but especially in the elder industry. We are the fastest growing population. And there's a lot of opportunity there. Elders are going to surpass the younger generations. We need people to come in and have an opportunity to see what it's like in the day in life of one of the agencies that administers our programs. Meals on Wheels, for example, great volunteer program. The program operates on volunteers. Elder Care Services here in Leon County has one of the best operations around. There are opportunities to plug in somewhere.
John Curry: My rotary club helps with that. I haven't done it in quite a while myself. It's time to do it again. Talk a little bit about the time, the volunteers, think about it in terms of the folks listening to this. It's time and money. It's not just your money, so people can write a check for a large amount of money. Some say, "I don't have money to give." But talk about how they can donate their time and help out. Where do you need help?
Lisa Bretz: Each of our lead agencies, when I talked about the 14 counties, we have a lead agency in each of those counties. They all have needs.
John Curry: Pardon me one second, explain what you mean by lead agency?
Lisa Bretz: So lead agency, that's a term that's highlighted in the Community Care for the Elderly Act, that is one of the programs that we administer. And a lead agency is the designated agency in that community to coordinate services for older adults. And those are the agencies that we contract with. They have a great deal of need for volunteers. Activities, at meal sites, we have congregate meal sites. So you've heard of Meals on Wheels, we also have places where older adults can come and congregate to enjoy fellowship in a nutritious meal. So volunteers at those meal sites to help with activities.
We have, certain programs have volunteer drivers. Now that's a liability issue, so each agency may handle that differently. We have the need to help with telephone reassurance. Having volunteers just make a friendly phone call every day. Not all of our agencies are fortunate enough to have a rich volunteer base like elder care services does here for their Meals on Wheels programs. So some of them only receive their meals frozen once a week. So they see a volunteer once a week, versus Elder Care who sees them five days a week.
So that telephone reassurance program is a valuable resource to, "Hey, how you doing today? Is everything going okay? Is there anything that you need?" They can report back to their case managers. "I called Ms. Smith and today she said she's not feeling well, and she has a prescription waiting for her and has no way to get it." So being able to connect those individuals with daily needs. But that's something anybody can do from their home. They don't have to come into the agency to make those phone calls.
John Curry: Nice. What do you do locally for your Area Agency to raise money?
Lisa Bretz: Our agency actually has chosen, and this is 40 years back, our agency decided not to be a fundraising entity. Particularly because we'd be competing against our own providers. So each of our lead agencies is required to raise 10% match for Community Care for the Elderly and Older Americans Act, so they all have their own fundraising campaigns. I know here in Leon County, since we're here, Oktoberfest is one the Elder Care Services' largest fundraising efforts. They also will have occasional drives, like I know we've all heard ... We're in winter so they've done blanket drives. Probably nearing summer we'll be doing a fan drive if they haven't started that already. So it can come in goods and services and financial support. But those are all designed at the local level.
John Curry: So if somebody wanted to make a donation, do you accept that or not? You just don't go do fundraising.
Lisa Bretz: On one occasion, we'll get a random check in the mail. And they just may have talked to somebody or heard about us somehow and wanted to make sure those dollars go towards somebody's care. But for the most part, if somebody were to call me and ask me, "Where can I donate?" I'd ask them, let them know about the communities that we serve, as them if there's a particular community they wanted that money to go to, and give them the contact information.
John Curry: That's nice. So instead of just saying, “give me your money”, you're identifying where that money's best useful.
Lisa Bretz: I mean I will tell you, when we had Hurricane Michael come through, our agency was desperate to try to help these communities. As were many other individuals in the community. What can I do? And one thing that we ... We knew there were drop shipments of water and basic supplies going to these communities. We wanted to be elder-specific. People that were receiving weekly drop shipments of adult disposable diapers and nutritional supplements, such as Ensure and Boost, didn't have a way to get that drop shipped. Addresses were literally blown away.
John Curry: Hey, they were gone. We saw last week, they're in a position where their mail was going to Orlando instead of to Panama City.
Lisa Bretz: So we did a local drive and were able to get those supplies out to those communities. The community here was very responsive and supportive, and we were able to help for that temporary period of time while UPS and all the other delivery sources got their GPS systems up and operating to help them through the community.
John Curry: It sounds like, just listing to you there, really your biggest issue is making sure people know what services are available. And then you serve as kind of like a guide, go here, go here, go here.
Lisa Bretz: Yep, that's exactly what we do. And that is the greatest challenge. Among a lot of non-profits, I think our challenge is getting awareness, getting our messaging out there. But most important, I'm not here to highlight just the Area Agency on Aging. If it weren't for the providers we contract with, we would not have a very strong system. But we do have a very strong system of care. Caring individuals, caring communities, caring organizations.
John Curry: Talk a little bit about specific things that your agency does. Forget about the other agencies for a minute. Let's be selfish and talk about Lisa and her team. So tell us more about that.
Lisa Bretz: You know, when we reflect back on the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative, you have people that are receiving a diagnosis, if they've gone through the proper channels, and that's one thing that we're trying to educate them is the memory disorder clinics in Florida are a great resource to help a person understand, yes I think I have a memory impairment. I'd like to have a diagnosis, what's going on. Just because we're aging doesn't mean we're going to get dementia. Sometimes we're just naturally forgetful. I've recently heard that's a sign of intelligence.
John Curry: Some of us have selected memories, too.
Lisa Bretz: Yes, they do. But you get a diagnosis, and just like any other disease, okay, I've gotten the diagnosis, now what do I do? So if you're diabetic, you're going to need medication and you're going to change your diet. If you have a certain type of cancer, there's certain treatments that you're going to be following. With dementia, you're going to eventually need supportive assistance to remain in your home.
If you get a diagnosis of dementia, that does not equate to an immediate death sentence nor does it equate to an immediate nursing home placement. So our organization is here to provide, I do really like to call it we provide the hope. The connection to resources that can help a person navigate their long-term care. We're not going to dictate that long-term care path. We're going to let people know what those options are, help them understand what kinds of questions they need to be asking people who are involved in planning their care. So we refer people to financial planners. We refer people to elder law attorneys. Because we don't have all the answers and we're not the experts in everything aging. But we have partnerships throughout the community and valuable resources in the community that we help link people to.
John Curry: It's difficult to be an expert in everything, isn't it?
Lisa Bretz: Yes, sir.
John Curry: We kind of water down the word expert. John, I see the wheels turning over there. Based on what Lisa's been sharing, you think you want to jump in and join us with?
John Beck: Well, I agree with Lisa. 70% of a person affected with dementia lives at home with a spouse. 14% will live by themselves. There's 84% of the people with dementia be living within our community not in an assisted living facility, I think is very important. So that's how come they shop and they should be inclusive in what we take for granted we talked about before.
John Curry: Right. And it makes the point that very few people, as a percentage, will ever go to assisted living or a nursing home.
John Beck: Correct. They cannot afford it. Most of them cannot.
Lisa Bretz: And that's when we're seeing these individuals. They're tapped out in the resources and now they have no financial resources to provide for that long-term care. So they're coming to us to look into applying for Medicaid.
John Curry: All right. Well one of the things that I learned when I was getting my Master's degree in financial services, I was amazed. There were two courses I learned it clearly. In one was on income taxes. The history of income taxes. Another was on dealing with long-term care issues. They didn't say it's because of Parkinson's or dementia or whatever, they said long-term care could actually occur for a person 30 years old. You dive off a diving board, you hit the pool and you're paralyzed. Guess what? You now need care. Your world is changed. Car accident, you're paralyzed, your world has changed.
So it's not just about old people. It's about all people. And the standpoint of you could lose your ability to take care of yourself. That's why we like to get people like the two of you sitting in front of this microphone, because you could tell your story better than we can and we are educating people topics that, unless they are directly involved or some dear friend happens to tell them something or a family member, they're not going to know about this. They don't know about it.
All right, so as we wrap up here, what would be the things that you would like to share with our listeners that they should do or really just any thoughts you've got that you want to end with?
Lisa Bretz: There's so much. I think I'm going to say that I would like you all to pocket the elder help line phone number. 1-800-963-5337. You can call us about anything. If it's not something that we're experts in or knowledgeable about, we're going to find out who it is you need to talk to. I think that's the greatest resource that I can offer the community. And my colleagues around the state, we're answer calls all day five days a week.
John Curry: We talked earlier before we got on the call, on the podcast here. So I want you to come to some of our seminars. Because I think if all we did was give you five or ten minutes just to stand up there and tell people what you do and what your organization could help with, it'd be a help to a lot of people.
Lisa Bretz: Well I sold John in that first five minutes of meeting him. I'd love that opportunity.
John Curry: John, how about you, anything you want to end with?
John Beck: I don't think most people are aware how many people live in Leon County with dementia. Over 4,300 people living with a form of dementia. You are talking 2.5 caregivers for every person. So you're talking 12,000 people there. So you're talking almost a community of 20,000 people. And I don't think our business community understands the need. That there's so many people out there. And I do believe that unfortunately there is a little stigma attached to that. I don't want to have a restaurant, I don't want to invite one of the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest into my establishment. There is a little stigma attached to that. But if these organizations do not respond to the needs of these people, they will pay a price down the road. And I truly believe, in years down the road, four or five years, there will be a law that every business will go through a training program just like they do ADA now. There will be a training program in years, so if you're a community leader in this community, step up to the plate now. Receive the training and start welcoming these people, is my goal.
John Curry: That's a good segue into something regarding the training. You made a comment about going into restaurants. Is there a place where people go get the training? Like in the evening or like a seminar like we do for people? Is there a place for that?
Lisa Bretz: There are a variety of resources. I know in town the Alzheimer's Project offers a great training curriculum to help caregivers understand what the signs, symptoms of dementia look like. The Memory Disorder Clinic, Vicky Rose, the coordinator of the clinic, travels all over. She has the same counties that I do. So she's getting out doing a lot of these trainings. And through our local task force, we have members that can provide the education. So we have done evening, we've done morning, we've done midday. I think you even have coordinated a couple weekend presentations.
John Beck: Yes.
John Curry: Would you be open to us trying to build a seminar? I've never done this. It's always been about retirement planning. But would you be open to us talking about doing a seminar where we invite people in, instead of doing it through a microphone, you're in front of a group?
Lisa Bretz: I think we would have no problem coordinating that through our Dementia Care and Cure Initiative taskforce.
John Curry: I think we could help a lot of people. Because if we have 80 people in the room, and they're going out and telling people about it, that's helping you, that's helping them, but it's also helping us spread the word we want to get out. We'll talk about that. I think it'll be good. Because especially what you're trying to do. You see, when you were talking about the restaurants, the first thing to pop in my head is everybody, everyone needs that training. Whether you work there or not. I mean we need it just when you're encountering someone.
I was walking through the nursing home ... not nursing home, it's a rehab center, in Geneva, Alabama, Sunday. I went to see my mom. And then before that was in Dothan, Alabama before they moved her. And it's amazing to see the number of elderly at different stages. Some who, they're totally out of it. They're just sitting there. They're almost like in a trance. Others that are very bright. Others that are in their wheelchairs coming down the hallway. "Hello sir, how you doing?" I stop and chat with them. It's delightful. But also, you're right about the stigma, John.
John Beck: Yes, there is.
John Curry: There is that stigma and there's also the person that my mom was with before, sharing a room, who would lose her cool and scream and carry on and be on the phone cussing at her son and daughter. So we have to understand that the brain's different at that point.
Lisa Bretz: And we want individuals to feel comfortable, individuals who are going through this journey to feel comfortable calling the elder help line or calling a trusted friend and letting them know what they're going through so that we can help get them through the system of a proper diagnosis. It doesn't mean it's Alzheimer's. It could be a reversible type of dementia. There’re medications. There’re diet changes. There's a whole variety of things that could help reverse certain dementias. So don't be afraid.
John Curry: So also, what you're saying is don't assume.
Lisa Bretz: Don't assume just because you're forgetful that you have Alzheimer's because that, as John said, that's one form of dementia.
John Curry: I'm going to end my part on this with a thing that happened to me. I won't use a name because somebody listening to this will know him. But I had a very dear friend that would, you were talking about lunch with your uncle. We would have lunch once a month. And he liked fried catfish. So I would take him to Crystal River Seafood, we'd eat fried catfish. Always on a Friday. So we're sitting there on North Monroe, Crystal River, and I could tell a few times, you could tell he had forgotten who the heck I was. So at one point, my friend, he says, "John, you know what's really good about having Alzheimer's?" "I can't imagine there's anything good about it." He said, "Oh man, I meet new people all the time. He said hell, I met you five times today." And I started laughing. He started laughing. And he said, "Now that's what we should be doing. Instead of walking around sad and gloomy, you need to understand my brain's the way it is, I can't change it. Now I can get angry at times," and he did, but he had moments like that, John, of where it made it real. And you understood that it was okay. It was okay to crack a joke and laugh about it.
But I was sitting there, I was stunned, I'm like what could possibly be good about having Alzheimer's?
John Beck: Well there is one more benefit. You can hide your own Easter eggs as well. But I think my last point, we need to also have the public. We need to have them go to their restaurants, go to their store and say look, there is a need for this. Because that business is not going to, may see a need until people start going to them saying yes, would you go through this training? For me, for my mother, for my uncle. We need to make that awareness, put the pressure on the business community as well, and then they will start to see more of a need and it will grow from there.
John Curry: Yep. I agree. Thank you so much for being here. Lisa. Pleasure.
Lisa Bretz: Thank you.
John Curry: Good seeing you again, John.
John Beck: I thank you, John.
John Curry: Great seeing you. Thank you so much. Folks, I hope that you will take the information you've learned today, use it, and spread the word. Help us get the word out there and let people get training. And thank you so much.
John Beck: Thank you.
Lisa Bretz: Thank you.
Speaker 4: If you would like to know more about John Curry's services, you can request a complimentary information package by visiting johnhcurry.com/podcast. Again, that is johnhcurry.com/podcast. Or you can call his office at 850-562-3000, again, that is 850-562-3000. John H. Curry, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, Accredited Estate Planner, Masters of Science in Financial Services, Certified in Long Term Care, registered representative and financial advisor, Park Avenue Securities, LLC. Securities products and services and advisory services are offered through Park Avenue Securities, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. Financial representative of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in New York, New York. Park Avenue Securities is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian. North Florida Financial Corporation is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Park Avenue Securities. Park Avenue Securities is a member of FINRA and SIPC. This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, we are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity.
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2019-77893 Exp 4/15/21