The daunting task of providing care for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia is an act of love that few understand and readily take on. Fewer still are caregivers who take time for themselves throughout the process.

The Angel Care Regional Respite program was started in 2006 at Grace United Methodist Church to help caregivers care for themselves. The program provides free activities and lunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia so caregivers can enjoy a break from their daily routines.

The program is open to caregivers of participants in the early stages of the diseases.

Joyce Huckabee knows firsthand the toll these diseases can have on caregivers and participants. Her husband of 47 years, Conrad, is in the early stages of dementia brought on by health complications. She appreciates the care of the respite program volunteers.

“This gives caregivers an opportunity to have time to themselves,” Joyce Huckabee said. “I can go do what I need to do, because I know he is very well taken care of. I don’t have any problem leaving him.”

Marion Palumbo said the program has seen a decline in participation the last year or so and is in need of volunteers, as well as participants and their caregivers. The program also welcomes monetary donations, which can be made to Grace United Methodist Church.

“We use the individual talents of each volunteer to ensure the participants enjoy their time with us,” said Palumbo, one of three cooks that prepares meals for the luncheon. “So we need people with varying interests and talents. It also gives the participants an enjoyable place to be.”

Caregivers and those wishing to volunteer and receive training should contact the church at 254-547-3729.

The Alzheimer’s Association reminds caregivers to:

Avoid caregiver burnout by making time for oneself.

Join caregiver support groups.

Pursue interests beyond the caregiving role, such as exercise, hobbies, journaling and art.

Maintain physical and mental health with exercise and other activities that reduce stress.

Seek medical help if there are signs of depression.

To reach Azeita Taylor, the Copperas Cove Herald office at 254-501-7476.

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