ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Hand in hand, Alicia Christopher and Jodie Finney package items.
What these cousins are putting inside can be a game-changer when they go out to the world.
They stuff caregiver bags with several items, including a card which says:
"I am caring for someone with dementia and Alzheimer's. We appreciate your patience and kindness."
A simple card with a grand message.
Alicia Christopher and Jodie Finney are cousins and co-founders of the nonprofit, The Caregiver Club.
"My dad has frontal lobe dementia. I realized how much my mom was going through from medicine to the daily routine and I found the hardest thing to be lunch and dinner and he loves to go out," Christopher said.
As for Finney, her mother has Alzheimer's.
"It is a 24/7 job. There is really no break when you are a caregiver with someone from memory loss. Those caregivers at home are super stressed and don't really get the break they deserve and that's where we are hoping to come in," Finney said.
Finney has a doctorate in Physical Therapy from Washington University and specializes in geriatric rehabilitation.
"Isolation can increase memory loss and lots of studies show socialization is really good to prevent memory loss so people need to get out," she said.
That's why handing out these cards can also relieve some stress.
"These cards are the one tool to get out to the community and knowing you have kind of an armor in your pocket. You can inform people around you without telling your story over and over again," Finney said.
Christopher said she's handed it out to servers and to flight attendants. She's even shared it with fans sitting next to them at a baseball game.
The organization also honors caregivers with gifts four times a year and hosts caregiver outings.
It also plans to have a dementia-friendly dining program. It plans to partner with several restaurants to train them.
The Caregiver Club just started in February and plans to grow.
"It is just Alicia and I. We need manpower more than anything, it's administrative manpower," Finney said.
To extend even more support, more hands are needed.
"Letting people know that we are here for them and we are on this journey too and help them," Christopher said.
The organization sells caregiver kits online here or in select stores at the Ivy Hill, The Nook, The Woman's Exchange, Ladue Pharmacy, and Mary Tuttles.
If you'd like to donate, click here.
The money would help the organization and also give gifts to caregivers who are nominated.
This year, it handed out Cardinals tickets and Muny tickets.