In December 2015, the organization I lead (formerly known as the Alzheimer's Association, New York City Chapter) broke away from the National Alzheimer's Association in Chicago to return to our roots as an independent charity. The decision to disaffiliate - a strategic business decision made in the best interest of our organization and those we serve - set us on a three-month journey of self-evaluation, introspection and reflection.
Our path of discovery has given us a clear vision of the future of dementia care and our role as leaders.
We knew we would need a new name that exemplified the very core of who we were: an organization with more than three decades of experience, developing and implementing innovative, creative and leading-edge caregiving initiatives.
So, we stepped back and assessed what we have done best for 30 years. And what we do best - where we have always excelled - is understanding the needs of New York City caregivers and providing them with the support they need to care with confidence today and, just as important, to plan for tomorrow.
We then asked ourselves, "What kind of person does it take to be a caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer's or dementia?"
The answer was very clear. It takes a special kind of person to rise to the challenge. It takes the courageous kind. The listening kind. The loving kind. It takes the caring kind.
As soon as we said this, we knew we had it. Choosing a meaningful name for our organization - one that would resonate with New York's dementia caregiving community - was really as simple as this: CaringKind - The Heart of Alzheimer's Caregiving.
At CaringKind we see people, not a disease. We understand that one caregiver's experience is not like any other. And we help individuals and families affected by a dementia diagnosis to find right path to best meet their unique needs. From that first call to our 24-hour Helpline, our trained professionals offer the guidance caregivers need, when they need it, to make each day a little bit brighter.
At CaringKind, we know there is no one-size fits all approach to dementia caregiving. Our education and training programs and social work services help ease the emotional, physical, psychological and financial burden of managing the disease, while we treat each individual and family with dignity and compassion. Our support groups are a lifeline for caregivers
And, in continuing our deep commitment to provide care and support to people who are living with Alzheimer's and dementia, we are also helping improve the quality of life for the caregiver. For instance, our state-of-the-art early stage center will continue to provide a safe, supportive environment and specialized programs for the growing number of people under the age of 65 diagnosed with early onset dementia. And thanks to CaringKind's strong relationship with the NYPD, our MedicAlert NYC program will continue to provide resources to protect those who wander. Diversity outreach efforts to New York City's African-American, Latino, Orthodox Jewish, Russian, Chinese and LGBT communities will continue
Today, we can say with pride that CaringKind is a strong community of people, not just a network of resources. We have unparalleled and deep, local roots in the complex, bustling city we call home. And our partnerships with nursing homes, major medical centers, and world renowned researchers remain stronger than ever.
At CaringKind, we are creating a world where the stigma of an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis no longer forces families to retreat, but helps them to reach out and ask for help