HATTIESBURG, MS. - A Hattiesburg Clinic Physician, Dr. Ronald Schwartz, started a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to people with Alzheimer's Disease and their caregivers.
Dr. Schwartz has served as a principal investigator for over 30 clinical trials in Alzheimer Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment over the past decade.
Through Dr. Schwartz's research he noticed caregivers sometimes get overlooked. He started Disentangle AD in 2016. It will operate as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit under the umbrella of The Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation.
"We try to help them (caregivers) with a little financial assistance, we developed this non-profit to help provide that for them" said Dr. Schwartz.
The organization provides mini grants. It is designated for small, well-defined projects or services in or outside the home of a patient.
He said the money usually goes towards, "Home repairs, ramps, locks on doors, more common things, like the need of a sitter, things like that, like respite care that is not covered by insurance, things that they cannot afford."
According to the organization 15.9 million family caregivers provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer's Disease.
"The health consequence of being a caregiver, for someone with Alzheimer's disease, they neglect their own care, medical appointments, they do not get their own medications" said Dr. Schwartz.
He continued, "This money helps alleviate that stress for the caregiver. Because if they break down, it is not good for anybody. The patient can't get taken care of, and people do not have extended family units."
The Executive Board and Advisory Committee are responsible for oversight and implementation of all fund related activities. If an application is approved, caregivers can receive between $250-$1,000.
He said, "In the United States we are looking at about 5 million people with Alzheimer's disease and this is the so-called epidemic of the 21st century."
Every dollar that supports Disentangle AD is intended to help Pine Belt families and caregivers. "We're going to help your neighbor and we are going to try to make it easier for them to manage this disease" said Dr. Schwartz.
"In Mississippi between 50,000 to 53,000 people have Alzheimer's disease and that just keeps going up each year" said Schwartz.
Although there is no cure for the disease, mini grants are one way to help patients and caregivers.
Dr. Schwartz said, "Hopefully we are able to raise enough money to give out more grants and keep expanding the awareness that we are doing."
Disentangle AD is hosting a Caregiver Conference November 10. All proceeds will help provide funds to caregivers.
To learn more about Dr. Schwartz's organization and the event you can click here.