Respite Care Charleston Receives Grant

The Roper Saint Francis Physicians Endowment has awarded a $25,000 grant to Respite Care Charleston (RCC) to support the non-profit organization’s non-medical services for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD).  The grant will support with RCC’s day program for individuals living with ADRD, including updated technology, volunteer training, and other program expenses.

For more than 20 years, Respite Care Charleston has provided half-day, community-based programs for individuals with ADRD, allowing caregivers the opportunity for respite and offering participants therapeutic activities focused on social engagement.  The only service of its kind in Charleston County, RCC cares for an average of 45 people per month at sites in Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, Johns Island, James Island, and North Charleston.

“The stress of caring for a loved one with dementia is immensely challenging emotionally, physically and financially, and there are few affordable options for short-term relief,” said Bernie Buonanno, RCC Co-Chair.  “This grant will allow us to maintain our low program fees and provide scholarships that ensure no family is turned away due to financial challenges.”

The Roper Saint Francis Physicians Endowment was established by the Medical Society of South Carolina to provide grants to improve health, wellness and access for residents of Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties.

For John Holloway, CEO of the MSSC, the program helps meet an emerging need for the under- and uninsured.  “The rate of Alzheimer’s and dementia is rising in South Carolina, yet few people have insurance to fund short-term, non-medical care.  By supporting Respite Care Charleston, we’re helping ensure caregivers have access to affordable care for their loved ones, sustaining their quality of life and promoting aging in place.”

Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of conditions that impair memory, behavior and the ability to think clearly due to the death of neurons in the brain. Dementia symptoms can be caused by strokes, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease or, most commonly, Alzheimer’s disease. In South Carolina, an estimated 16.7% of persons 65 and older have been diagnosed with ADRD, a much higher rate than the national average of 10%. As the population in SC continues to grow, the state is expected to see a 34.8% increase in Alzheimer’s by 2025, the 8th highest rate of increase in the US. Of the nearly 100,000 South Carolinians with ADRD, approximately 70% live at home with family caregivers.

-Submitted by Sara Perry, Respite Care Charleston