Mike* began to notice Cathy stumbling and forgetting appointments. After a medical evaluation, Cathy was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Frontotemporal dementia is an umbrella term for a group of brain disorders that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These areas of the brain are generally associated with personality, behavior, and language. The most common signs of frontotemporal dementia involve extreme changes in behavior and personality, speech and language problems, and motor disorders.  

It was decided that Cathy could not be left alone, and subsequently Mike's physical and mental health became at risk from constant caregiving. Mike heard about Hospice SLO County’s unique non-medical volunteer program that provides companionship for those with a life-limiting illness and respite for their caregivers. Cathy was assigned a trained volunteer and for a while, the volunteer took her to lunch, shopping, and other activities. Once Cathy was unable to leave home, the volunteer would sit with her, watch television, and put together puzzles. During the times Cathy was with her volunteer, Mike had much-needed breaks and finally felt like he could catch his breath.   

Mike ultimately made the difficult decision to place Cathy in a facility to get the care she needed. He worked with Hospice SLO County's care manager to find options. This was heartbreaking to Mike and he started grief counseling to help address the loss.  

"Without Hospice SLO County there to support us, ask the hard questions, and find options, I don't know how we'd cope," said Mike.  


*Names and photo changed to respect the client's privacy.