Gerontology: Ask a Caregiver
Acting as a caregiver for his grandmother and other family members inspired Joe Kleid to become an advocate for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Joe is now a certified dementia practitioner and currently serves on the board of an Alzheimer’s nonprofit, The Laona M. Kitchen Foundation.
Additionally, he launched his own company, The Dementia Guide, where he serves as a dementia care specialist. Joe is completing his certificate in our Gerontology program and shared more about his background and experience as a caregiver.
Tell us a little more about your background.
I have worked with older adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia for the past 10 years. I recently started my own business and wanted to broaden my knowledge to better serve individuals and the community at large. I have learned from others in the same field.
Previously, I was a national director for a large memory care company. I decided that I wanted to be representing families instead of representing the actual businesses themselves. I wanted to be an advocate for families. I have done real estate before and in real estate, you get a buyer’s agent when you are looking for different options. We married those two concepts together: being an agent that represents families for Alzheimer’s and dementia care, guiding them on what to do next in sometimes a very scary time.
What are the most important things you learned in our Gerontology course?
I have learned to look at aging in different light; to talk about it from a different perspective. Dr. Lois Ricci has connected us with so many resources. Our web is so much bigger now. She has taught us to listen to not only the people we are providing care for but also our peers. We all have something to contribute; different perspectives. Embracing the people has been key.
The conversations that we’ve had in this class, with all these perspectives, what I thought was my opinion on a certain topic is now very different nearing the end of this course. It is very different on so many topics, from living well to quality of life to the death and dying process — every part of gerontology. It’s a different perspective based on others perspectives.
How has the class helped you in your business?
In conjunction with this class, my wife and I started our own business called The Dementia Guide. We assist families dealing with the crisis of Alzheimer’s and dementia and connect them to helpful resources. This could come in the form of in-home care, assisted living or memory care or just learning how to navigate if somebody needs legal resources — or if they need to have information about what Alzheimer’s and dementia are.
This class has been invaluable with this because we have legal experts and occupational therapists in the class; individuals who are in various aspects of corporate leadership, nurse aides, and individuals dealing with their own journey volunteering. They all bring different perspectives. I see our class as a number of resources that are there for potential clients, but also Dr. Ricci has brought in so many resources for us that are available in Georgia that I would not have known or had a chance to meet prior to this class.
Tell us why your nonprofit work with the Laona M. Kitchen Foundation is so important.
I serve on the board of the LMK foundation, which is in Marietta. I have also attended some senior conferences. At the Cobb Senior Expo, there was a presentation there about continuing education classes and a conversation sparked from that. I always had it in the back of my mind and I ended up pursuing it when the opportunity became available. It has been neat to see the depth of the conversations. For me, I would have conversations with families about dealing with the loss of a parent and my conversations are very different now that I have lost a parent myself. A different depth comes with that.