Robert Baltimore participated nearly 60 years ago in sit-ins at Read’s Drugstore in Baltimore, served in the Navy and taught his grandchildren how to check oil in their vehicles.
Today, the 75-year-old military veteran who always hangs up Christmas lights early must now receive support from his wife, Margarett, for the most basic of tasks after being diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s several years ago.
“It hits you like a ton of bricks,” Margarett Baltimore said. “Where do you go? What does that mean for me? I couldn’t find anyone from Prince George’s County [to help understand] what that meant for me in taking care of him.”
She called the National Alzheimer’s Association’s regional office in Northern Virginia and was mailed literature on the mental disease and assistance for caregivers, but was dismayed by the lengths she had to go to.
“Why do I have to call someone in Virginia to find out all this information?” she said. “We should have that resource right here. I want a building with a sign on the outside that says, ‘Alzheimer’s Day Care Center in Prince George’s County.’”
Baltimore, who in 2014 created a nonprofit organization named after her husband called Trebor Alzheimer’s Senior and Support Center, is organizing a $125-a-head fundraiser Saturday, Dec. 3 at the University of Maryland College Park Marriott in Hyattsville, in hopes of opening the county’s first comprehensive Alzheimer’s adult day care center next year.
The building, which she hopes could be donated and then refurbished, would house up to 60 people with arts, music, fitness and other programs with at least 12 employees that includes nurses.
Counselors would also be on hand to provide safety, financial, health and other resources for caregivers, who were recognized last month during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness.
For example, caregivers would learn when a loved one may believe it’s breakfast time and want to eat eggs and bacon during lunchtime.
“As long as he or she is eating, that is fine,” she said.
Baltimore said the center would possibly open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. She said the $76 daily fee are what businesses can charge in the state of Maryland. In comparison, the District charges $110 and Virginia at $61.
Those jurisdictions and neighboring Montgomery County have centers where caregivers can not only drop off their loved ones before heading to work, but also to handle personal errands for a few hours.
Baltimore declined to comment on specifically how much money has been raised so far and the cost to manage the proposed center.
However, she did say her preferred location would be near the future state-of-the-art hospital in Largo. Conversations have already begun with electricians and contractors to do some work for free.
“I am a very positive and praying person,” she said. “God has put a lot of wonderful people in front of me and people who are supportive of the project.”
Baltimore and her husband are familiar with working and mingling with high-profile local and state politicians and business leaders, having organized an annual black-tie gala for The Helping Hand for Your Business Foundation, which sought to support and expand local companies. Baltimore said the focus now is mainly toward Alzheimer’s after establishing her nonprofit, Trebor.
One of Baltimore’s biggest supporters is Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who will attend Saturday’s fundraiser.
“We need to have places where people can go and get all the resources they need,” said Baker, whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. “It’s really good to have something like this for Prince George’s County. There’s a good chance we can get this facility and make it a reality.”
The county’s Alzheimer’s chapter office, which opened in Lanham about two years ago, provides information on caregiver support meetings. It also assisted in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in September that raised more than $95,000.
LaKeysha Boyd-Moore, who manages Alzheimer’s programs in the county and Southern Maryland, said the money will go toward research, care, education programs and advocacy.
She said some businesses in Prince George’s will soon open “memory cafes” where caregivers and their loved ones who suffer from dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, can gather for support over coffee or tea.
Boyd-Moore said about 100,000 Marylanders live with Alzheimer’s, but that number may be even greater.
“Unfortunately, many people don’t get it treated for it,” said Boyd-Moore, who has worked with Margaret Baltimore on various programs. “What [Baltimore] is doing such a big deal.”