Never Alone: Jane Sweeney – Her Love Story
Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s; Three words, where even the thought of a diagnosis is enough to put a pit in your stomach. The diseases are growing. So much that by the time you (yes, you!) finish reading this article, someone in the United States developed Alzheimer’s (source:alz.org).
Many have seen dementia play out on the big screen in films like ‘The Notebook,’ but for Jane Sweeney, it was her reality. Her husband, Bernie, a man who she still describes as the love of her life, suffered from dementia before passing away in 2012.
Jane made it her mission to turn her tragedy into triumph while bringing awareness to a growing issue. In doing so she wrote the book ‘Caregiver: My Love Story’ in an effort to bring comfort, education and support to the caregivers pierced by the effects of the disease.
Now, she’s taking her testimony one step further.
In an eight-session course, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Jane is hosting an education and support program to those impacted by dementia. The faith-based pilot course is designed to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support to the silent heroes.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
Damian: Tell me what you’re doing?
Jane Sweeney: We’re so excited that we have the first pilot for the Diocese of Venice here at St. John XXIII for The Dementia Awareness program. It’s a faith-based program for love, hope and care when the diagnosis is dementia.
Damian: what issues are you going to address?
JS: It begins November 15, twice a month on Saturday mornings. It runs through February. You don’t have to be present for all sessions. We have two books to go along with the course.
We also have an entire program that’s going to provide support, resources in the community and guest speakers. It’s for colleagues, family members, spouses and neighbors with a loved one who is suffering from the illness.
There is an entire awareness for what’s being called ‘A Silver Tsunami’ that is going to impact our lives for the next 20 years.
Damian: Why is it called the ‘Silver Tsunami’?
JS: It’s a term used to bring a connection. As you know, when most people age, their hair usually becomes silver. Now, there’s an estimated 5.3 million people who have dementia. It’s estimated the number will rise to more than 16 million by year 2050. There is no cure. So, as a faith-based program we want to show people how they can receive emotional support through the resources in the community, support groups and web-based education.
It is a call to love. We want caregivers to know they are not alone. We know how to be a caregiver. We know how to help spouses. We want to help those through the grieving process. Not only through the dementia (which is terminal), but we want to be there for them to enrich the passage. The value of life has to be emphasized when dementia is the diagnosis.
Damian: So the program is not just about education, it’s support?
JS: Exactly! We also want to help the person who has been diagnosed with dementia. There’s a new program that offers mentors. People who have dementia offer help to others who have been diagnosed. We will educate attendees about programs like this.
Damian: What’s the plan for the future of this program?
JS: The program is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus 13624. Five other councils will also be attending and observing the pilot. They will use it as a screen-board for all the Knight councils in the state of Florida. Our hope is this program goes national and international.
Damian: What is involved the entire course?
JS: It relies on two text books. Ellen Edmonds’ book ‘A Call to Love’ and my book, ‘Caregiver: My Love Story. Facing Dementia.’ We’re thrilled to offer this because we know when the diagnosis of Dementia comes it’s so important for the family to know how to approach it over the next few years. We found that the more you know, you can participate in staying engaged with the person, staying connected while gradually letting go, and to finding joy in caring and seeing the person you love so much join God in eternal salvation.
Dementia Awareness: Education & Support Program
In the Community Room
- Nov 15
- Jan 10