Dr. WILLIE BRUNETTI
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.
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