What I would have given to have a resource like Old Friends Club for my mom and grandmother!
My momma was always my biggest supporter and a constant source of inspiration in my life. She had the sweetest and kindest demeanor to anyone she spoke with, and she enjoyed helping people through her job as the Probate Clerk for my hometown. My mom was an avid reader (especially of Patricia Cornwell books) and loved listening to music. I began to notice her behavior and routine change when she would try to sit down and read at night—she started to open and close her books without reading any pages. She was fired not long before she turned 50, and we would later find out she was suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Since she was so young, she was ineligible for disability and even with her small pension, she made too much money to qualify for Medicaid. My family and I fought to find every available resource but were often met with many impasses. Through our church family and friends, my family and I were able to keep my mom at home, which was both a blessing and taxing for my grandmother (her mother). My grandmother became the sole caretaker of my mom when I moved to Washington, and I remember seeing how quickly FTD affected both my mom and my grandmother. Every time I came home to visit, I would see the new face of dementia instead of my mom, and I saw my grandmother slowly lose her spirit from the constant strain and stress of caregiving. I slowly watched as my mom lost her ability to read, write, talk, and eventually eat all within the span of 5 years because she died shortly after celebrating her 55th birthday.
Having something like Old Friends Club would have been such an invaluable resource for my family. The Clubs provide a safe haven for the Members to engage, communicate, and share not just any stories but their stories. This allows for their spirits to continue to be nourished through these new friendships. I also see how the caregivers breathe a sigh of relief when they’re able to have the respite time to focus on their needs and wants while knowing their loved one is taken care of at Old Friends Club. Both Joan and Karen are incredible Program Directors, and it’s evident that they love what they do. Creativity flourishes throughout each program day and the sense of community is obvious upon Member arrival. The warm greetings, jovial conversations, and sense of belonging is exactly what I wanted for my mom, and the support, acknowledgment, and assistance is what I wanted for my grandmother.
When I first learned about Old Friends Club, I was writing my master’s thesis during my time at the University of Washington, and I knew Old Friends Club was like no other available resource. I could feel Karen’s love for helping people as she described the mission of Old Friends Club to me, and I knew I wanted to be a part of her movement. Her vision of bringing Old Friends Club to multiple cultures and regions inspires me, and I’m extremely lucky she has asked me to be part of her OFC team!
-Katie Spears, Affiliate Development Director at Old Friends Club
Will you make a donation today to make the Clubs possible for more caregivers? No gift is too small. Donations can be made here: https://www.oldfriendsclub.org/helpacaregiver