Who’s Gonna Take Care of Me Promotes Year-round Giving to Benefit Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

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Alzheimer’s is a growing epidemic in America, and low-income patients and their caregivers often face shortages of basic supplies such as diapers, shoes, toothpaste and other essentials. Los Angeles entrepreneur Charles “Butch” Grimes established Whosgonnatakecareofme.com, a charitable blog that raises awareness & funds to provide much-needed items, along with a dose of encouragement and cheer.

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(Alzheimers patients) are not getting enough to get them through the month and when they run out, they run out.

Christmas may be an already distant memory for most people, but the “Elves for Alzheimer’s” at Whosgonnatakecareofme.com are working year-round to continue gift-giving efforts benefitting Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients, as well as their caregivers. The brainchild of Charles “Butch” Grimes, a Los Angeles resident whose mother suffers from Alzheimer’s, the Who’s Gonna Take Care of Me (WGTCOM) blog was established in 2015 to raise awareness of the needs of lower-income patients placed in care facilities that are often lacking in resources and family support.

In December, WGTOM collaborated with the L.A.-based 501c3 Urban Community Access Network (UCAN) and Sherril Rieux, M.D., to launch a Christmas-inspired event called “Elves for Alzheimer’s,” a gift-giving project that benefitted more than 100 Los Angeles area Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients and 40 caregivers. Grimes, who dotes on his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives in a full-time care center, found that patients often run out of basic supplies like adult diapers, and he began buying extras in bulk to help accommodate other patients.

“The problem is that some of these facilities are taking care of residents who are dependent on SSI and Medicare, limiting the supplies they can buy each month,” Grimes says. They are not getting enough to get them through the month and when they run out, they run out.”

Grimes also says that some patients are not being visited or supplemented by family members, and these are the patients who suffer the most. When he noticed one patient whose shoes had deteriorated to the point where they needed to be duct taped to hold them on her feet, Grimes went out and purchased a pair of shoes for the grateful woman the next day. The experience motivated Grimes to launch “Who’s Gonna Take Care of Me” to raise funds for some necessary basic supplies that would ease the day-to-day challenges of patients and caregivers.

Grimes set up the WGOTM website as well as a GoFundMe campaign called “Elves for Alzheimer’s,” enlisted volunteers to put together a party bus loaded with gift-wrapped packages containing donated items and distribute them to Alzheimers’ care centers throughout the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas.

The elves plan to keep the momentum going throughout the year with a variety of events to bring entertainment and cheer to this “invisible” community of patients and caregivers, and are reaching out to people to donate the following items:

  • adult diapers
  • toothpaste
  • lotion
  • adult wipes
  • combs
  • socks

The elves will also bring entertainment and cheer to residents of these facilities.

“The next phase of our efforts is focused on purchasing jackets for Alzheimer’s patients,” Grimes says. “El Nino weather conditions are creating weather fluctuations that affect their ability to stay warm during field trips, or when they are sitting or pacing in the cold, concrete halls of the facilities.

“We selected a zip-on style that is easy for them to get on and off, that we can purchase in quantity at a significant cost savings so that we can give them to as many patients as possible.”

Grimes says that most Americans are unaware of the demographic characteristics of Alzheimer’s, not to mention the financial and emotional impact it has on families and communities, until they experience a loved one suffering from the disease. For instance, black Americans have a markedly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than whites.

In a 2015 study titled, “African Americans and Alzheimers Disease: the Silent Epidemic,” The Alzheimer’s Association identified an emerging public health crisis among African-Americans. The study’s findings revealed some little known facts about the progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions, and is the most common cause of dementia. Among the findings highlighted in the study:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is more prevalent among black Americans than whites, with estimates ranging from 14 percent to almost 100 percent higher;
  • There is a greater familial risk of Alzheimer’s among black Americans; and
  • Genetic and environmental factors may work differently to cause Alzheimer’s disease in black Americans.

Labeling Alzheimer’s “the most expensive disease in America,” the AARP recently reported that the malady is devouring federal and state health care budgets, and depleting the life savings of millions of victims and their families. For low-income patients in particular, the costs for care and supplies are staggering, a situation that only compounds the patients’ suffering.

Grimes is committed to keeping the Elves for Alzheimer’s actively participating in charitable events and fundraising to benefit patients and caregivers in the underserved Los Angeles / Long Beach area, with the hope of expanding it to other communities nationwide.

“Santa’s on break until next Christmas season, but the elves will be working year round,” Grimes says.

For more information and or make a donation, visit the Who’s Gonna Take Care of Me website, email questions(at)whosgonnatakecareofme(dot)com, or call 323.864.9906. Monetary donations to go toward purchasing jackets and other one-time priority items can be made to the Elves For Alzheimer’s Go Fund Me account. To send needed items from the list above, please ship to Butch Grimes, c/o “Elves for Alzheimer’s” 8467 S. Van Ness Ave., Inglewood, California 90305.

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