After Loss of Husband, Georgia Woman Finds Rejuvenation On Road Scholar Adventure
In 2015, Road Scholar began awarding Caregiver Grants in recognition of the extraordinary time and energy countless Americans dedicate to caring for loved ones. The purpose of the grants is to eliminate cost barriers so that caregivers can experience a Road Scholar learning adventure. To date, more than 100 Caregiver Grants totaling more than $100,000 have been awarded.
On the occasion of Older American Month in May, Road Scholar acknowledges the special story of Judy Dandini, 66, of Rome, Ga., one of the many older adults who have provided unpaid care to an adult 50-and-over who is suffering from an illness or disability.
Judy and her husband, GianCarlo "Bando" Dandini, lived for 15 years in Nevada, where Judy worked at the historical society and Bando was always creative and active, "always building something," as Judy said. But she noticed gradual changes in Bando; mostly that he stopped doing things he once loved and showed signs of dementia. What followed was a challenging time— even more so when Judy’s work evolved from a part-time position to a full-time one.
With the anticipated progression of the illness, Judy decided their only option was for her and Bando to leave Nevada and return to her native Georgia, where she had family nearby. Soon after the move, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Judy provided daily care for Bando, managing his needs until his mental health declined significantly and episodes of unreasonableness became more frequent and frightened her. Eventually he needed full-time care in a skilled nursing facility, where Judy was a constant presence spending time with him daily and being involved in his care. Last October, Bando passed away at age73.
Saddened and exhausted, Judy knew she needed to recharge, but — like most people who have just lost a loved one — she was uncertain and conflicted about how to do it. She said she knew she "needed something positive to look forward to, to help me cope after I lost Bando."
Judy happened to read about Road Scholar’s Caregiver Grant program, which offers up to $1,300 for a person to experience one of Road Scholar educational adventures in all 50 states. Judy applied for the Caregiver Grant, found out soon that she was accepted, and in January attended a six-day learning adventure in San Diego, where she learned about the Southern California city’s history and experienced its culture and neighborhoods.
"Having come through over two years of watching my dynamic, healthy husband succumb to a cruel and stressful decline through Alzheimer’s, I had become exhausted physically and emotionally," Judy said. "Just having this program to look forward to after his death gave me hope that helped me through our wedding anniversary, my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a great way to immerse myself completely in the experience and it was wonderful to have someone taking care of the details for me."
For more information about Road Scholar Caregiver Grants, visit www.roadscholar.org/caregivergrants.
About the Road Scholar Caregiver Grant
By offering up to $1,300 for Caregivers who are lifelong learners, ages 50 and older, to enroll in a U.S.-based educational trip, the Caregiver Grant eliminates cost barriers to participating in a Road Scholar learning adventure and is available to any family caregiver who wishes to experience the joys of educational travel with Road Scholar. While the Caregivers travel solo, many form lasting bonds and develop much-needed camaraderie with people they meet along the way. For more information, visit www.roadscholar.org/caregivergrants.
About Road Scholar
Road Scholar is the nation’s largest educational travel organization for adults – a true university of the world. This not-for-profit educational organization offers 5,500 extraordinary learning adventures in 150 countries and 50 states. Road Scholars are immersed in a variety of educational activities, enlisting renowned faculty and experts who offer insider access not available to most individuals. Dedicated to making educational travel available to everyone, Road Scholar offers financial aid for those who otherwise could not participate in its programs.
Road Scholar educational adventures are created by Elderhostel, the not-for-profit world leader in educational travel for adults since 1975. To learn more, please visit press.roadscholar.org or check our blog at https://discussion.roadscholar.org/b/blog.