RAYTOWN, Mo. -- There aren't enough homes to care for elderly folks with dementia in the African-American community, according to a study by Kansas City's Urban League. One nurse is working to change that.
Debbie Thomas operates an adult day care and provides 24-hour care to two Alzheimer's patients.
"They appreciate what I do first of all," Thomas said. "They appreciate the love and care I give their loved ones. And the other is the rates, the costs. Because that let's them stretch their money out further because we don't know the time limit they are going to have to live, so we need to stretch that money, we need to stretch it as far as we can. So they can be provided with the care that they need."
Many of the people who seek Thomas out don't have insurance or can't afford the cost of nursing homes or Alzheimer's centers. Some pulled their loved ones out of those other places because they couldn't adapt to institutional living or thought they were being neglected.
Thomas says she has a waiting list of 22 others who are seeking an environment that's more like home.
"Finding Debbie, when I walked into this place for day care for my mom, I felt the love she has," said Barbara Powell. "Love, the people were clean and they were happy and they were speaking. And my mom fit right in. That was the key for me."
Thomas has been raising $100,000 to renovate a five bedroom home in Independence for 10 Alzheimer's patients on her waiting list. She's halfway to the goal and needs about $50,000 in the next month to begin construction.
Donations to Thomas' operation, Loving Hands You Can Trust LLC, are tax deductible. Go to: www.gofundme.com and search "Loving Hands You Can Trust LLC." There's also a fundraising account at Bank of America, 10100 E 350 Hwy., Raytown, MO 64138.
Experts claim by 2020, more than 200,000 Missourians will need care for dementia.