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Alzheimer's association wants respite care for patients in Tennessee

Alzheimers Association
Posted at 6:46 PM, Dec 29, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — To benefit caregivers of people with Alzheimer's in Tennessee, a bill is expected to be filed in 2022 to provide respite care to patients.

Tennessee Alzheimer's Association is behind the bill. They said it would benefit people who spend much of their time caring for the state's 120,000 people with either Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.

Respite care is when a trained professional takes care of a patient so a primary caregiver, usually a family member, can have time to themselves.

John Tometich, husband to Mary Tometich, said he would benefit from such a program.

Mary is 62-years-old but has been battling Alzheimer's for the past eight years.

"There's a lot of variation from day to day," Tometich said. "Sometimes, even figuring out what a glass of water is and what it is for and how to approach it is beyond the scope."

John spends most of his day caring for his wife. She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

"It's been just a very gradual journey in that direction. She's got a very loving spirit, a beautiful smile and brings joy to everyone that she interacts with," he said.

While he loves his wife, he said a break for himself would help with caring for her.

"You've got unpaid caregivers, and you've got to think, most caregivers are not in a situation like ours. They're older. So, they're not in the situation of having to earn an income while dealing with all of this on top of it. Even those, in that situation, many of them are unpaid," he said.

The program would provide respite care for patients through the Nine Area Agency on Aging.

The plan is designed as a three year pilot program, starting in 2023.