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    Comfort for Caregivers Seminar

    Dr. Willie Brunetti has a long history as a caregiver and over the years has cared for his father, mother, mother-in-law, aunt, and now his wife, Lee, who was diagnosed with Pick’s Disease, a form of frontal temporal lobe dementia. According to Dr. Brunetti, each of these individuals brought a unique set of challenges for both the caregiver and care recipient.

    “In 2000, I accepted a position as Minister of Education at a church in northeast Florida It was at this time that both of our mothers moved into our home,” Dr. Brunetti explained. “For seven years our family’s life totally revolved around the duties of caregiving. This became a very traumatic time in our home life. While caring for our parents, my wife and I were no longer able to plan dates, vacations, or other activities. Although our parents have passed away, the stress of their care remains a part of great and not-so-great memories.”

    Dr. Brunetti said the care of his wife now looms in the future and will create additional challenges for him and their family. Dr. Brunetti retired from the church and he and his wife moved to Huntsville to be with family.

    “The wife's comment was that she wanted her grandchildren ‘to know Granny and not the crazy lady,’” Dr. Brunetti recalled.

    Dr. Brunetti, a retired Air Force Officer of 22 years, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Master’s in Public Administration and Christian Education. Because of his status as Minister of Education, Dr. Brunetti said he became the "go-to guy" when others in the congregation began caring for a parent or spouse.

    He was called back to seminary in 2009 and earned a Doctor of Educational Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and graduated as the second oldest graduate in the program at the age of 67. His graduate project was to create a seminar for adult children and spouses who are caring for an aging parent or spouse.

    “The seminar, which has been taught in churches in Florida and Alabama, provides pertinent information that will enrich and support the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of the caregivers,” Dr. Brunetti said. “This also encourages churches to create care ministries to aid the caregiver in managing the turmoil and stress of their lives.”

    Dr. Brunetti also facilitates an Alzheimer's Support Group at his church and has been approved to teach a class designed to make his church "Alzheimer's Friendly," resulting in his church being the first to receive such a designation.

    To learn more about Dr. Brunetti’s caregiver support work, visit comfortforcaregiverseminar.com and Comfort for Caregivers Seminar on Facebook.


    Whether you have chosen to be a caregiver or were hijacked by circumstances, Catch Your Breath, a series of touching meditations by Linda Spalla, will become a wisp of sanity and a day-to-day stabilizer.

    Spalla retraces an eight month care-giving journey with her mother, captured in raw, candid images, truly becoming a walk in her shoes. What started as a thirty-days-to-live commitment of care in her home turned into an unexpected eight months of never-ending responsibility. You will feel a kinship with the roller coaster of emotions; from anger, confusion, surprise, resentment, guilt and ambivalence, to finally relief, recovery and celebration. You will learn through the various vignettes some refreshingly practical information on such topics as finding sitters, managing medicine, dealing with sibling rivalry, contracting with Hospice, moving to assisted living, doing will preparation and other legalities as well as funeral planning. You will laugh; you will sob; your heart will soar; your heart will break. You will find solace, encouragement and inspiration for one of life’s most daunting challenges. But especially, you will discover your best self, emerging stalwart, strong and forged by the fire of your caregiving experience. Give yourself a gift of renewal and Catch Your Breath.Visit Linda's web site at www.lindaspalla.com and purchase your copy of Catch Your Breath on Amazon!



  • My name is Lynn Easterwood and I was honored to be appointed to the Governors Coalition a year ago. I have been employed as the Volunteer Coordinator and Social Worker for Hospice of North Alabama for 11 years. We have the privilege to serve patients in 17 counties in north Alabama. My job allows me to provide care givers with respite services with the use of volunteers. Of course, there are never enough volunteers to meet the needs. I have several unique programs. I participate in the We Honor Veteran Program with the Veteran Administration. We have a celebration to honor veterans where we present them with a certificate, pin and a throw with their service branch on it in front of family, friends and staff with a ceremony. Also, we have an Adopt a Stocking program where all our patients get a stocking that was donated by someone in the community so that they get a Christmas present. The list goes on because the quality of care is most important.

    Through my job I have spoken at the 16th National Lifespan Respite Conference in Nashville, Tennessee and at the Alabama/Mississippi Social Work Conference and various places across North Alabama. I participate and coordinate many community events and teaching opportunities to promote the need for respite for care givers.

    I began my journey when I graduated from the University of Montevallo with a Bachelor of Social Work Degree. My first job was in a nursing home in Arab, Alabama as Activity Directory and Social Worker. I left there to become the Program Coordinator at the Marshall County ARC in Guntersville, Alabama. I have always liked a challenge so I took a job with the Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation. It was a Pilot program called ACESS. It was a program to get adults with Mental disabilities into the work forces with the use of job coaches. We were writing a program that was a model for the State of Alabama. I then became a trainer for the 11 counties North Region of Alabama for the Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation, teaching the group homes and community centers various topics on proper techniques on how to work with people with disabilities. Following this job, I began working with Volunteers of America as a QMRP as a Program Coordinator for several group homes. I decide I wanted to change my career path so I went to work with MidSouth Home Health as a Social Worker and a Community Liaison. I left this job to go to Hospice of North Alabama. I recently have accepted a position as Community Relations Director at City Center Village. This is an independent living senior residency. I will be beginning a new chapter in my life as I continue to serve the Senior Citizens of Alabama.

    It is a privilege to share my journey with you.

  • Respite Reimbursement Vouchers funded by the Department of Mental Health

    What: The Department of Mental Health will reimburse those caring for a person born with an Intellectual Disability for receiving respite services. The funds are paid to the caregiver after the respite service has been provided by whomever the caregiver chooses.

    Who: Care recipients that will be eligible for this program must have been born with an Intellectual Disability and must currently have an IQ below 70. The caregiver for this person must be providing 80 hours of care for the care recipient per week to qualify.

    When: Approval for the program is determined by Alabama Respite staff so the process is quick. Caregivers who apply must complete the one page application and provide proof of the care recipient’s Intellectual Disability diagnosis. Proof of diagnosis can be a letter from the doctor, social worker or case manager, a copy of an Individualized Education Program or other credible documentation.

    The great thing about this program is that once a caregiver is approved, they choose and train whomever they are comfortable with. There is no need for a stranger to come into the home to provide the care, which leaves both the caregiver and care recipient at ease. For more on hiring and keeping respite providers please click here.

    Typical voucher awards are $200 and based on availability of funding. Once Alabama Respite receives your completed documentation of respite services, reimbursement usually takes 60 days.

    For more information on this program, please visit Respite Funding.

  • We are so pleased to announce the launch of a new logo for Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network©! The new logo reflects a more modern look and captures our mission to be a resource for finding respite throughout the lifespan.

  • According to the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center:

    "Medicaid waivers provide the largest federal source of funding assistance for respite. Each State develops their own waiver eligibility criteria and conditions for specific populations. Waivers are subject to federal approval. To see if your state has a Medicaid waiver that you or your family member may qualify for, click here.

    Keep in mind that many states maintain waiting lists for Medicaid Waiver services. It is not an automatic entitlement, as is the regular Medicaid State Plan program, although some states may be converting their Medicaid waivers to state plan benefits."

    For Home and Community-Based Medicaid Waivers for Respite Support and State-by-State Summaries of Medicaid Waiver Information, click here.


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