Dave Gauger, Support Group Facilitator, SPARK!, Helpline, Whitefish Bay
“Support groups are so worthwhile. Caregivers need the outlet.”
Dave has been volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association for over 15 years as a Support Group Facilitator and for the Helpline. He has also volunteered for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Milwaukee, SPARK! Social Program and attended an Advocacy Day in Washington D.C.
For over a decade, Dave volunteered answering phones for the Wisconsin Telephone Helpline. “I really enjoyed talking with caregivers,” says Jim. “My role was to help connect those in need with the resources of the Alzheimer’s Association.” Topics included general support, connecting caregivers with resources or support groups, sending literature, and at times just general comfort for someone newly diagnosed. The Helpline is a critical resource of the Alzheimer’s Association and in the last few years has been centralized to the headquarters location, to better serve caregivers.
Dave has a personal connection to the Alzheimer’s Association as his father suffered from dementia associated with his Parkinson’s disease.
Dave has also co-facilitated a monthly support group for caregivers for the last 10 years. “Support groups are so worthwhile,” says Dave. “Caregivers need the outlet and often get burned out – any little bit of support helps them.”
In more recent years, Dave has started volunteering with SPARK!, which is a social engagement program for those with memory loss and their caregivers. SPARK! offers cultural programming, conversation and hands-on activities. Dave volunteers at a session at the Milwaukee Public Museum, where a facilitator talks about a featured exhibit. “It’s a wonderful program,” says Dave. “It’s both social and educational and families really enjoy it.”