Bertolini named ‘Project Spotlight’ honoree
The Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center presented Dolores Bertolini with the November 2010 Project Spotlight honor award.
Terry Stewart, former city manager of Cape Coral, nominated Bertolini for the commendation.
The spotlight was created to highlight family caregivers who provide assistance and care to loved ones with memory impairment. The special honor is presented during the month of November for National Family Caregiver Month.
Stewart said he provided the Dubin Center with a name and narration of why he nominated Bertolini.
He explained that he has a tremendous amount of respect for Dolores because she is an “incredibly dynamic individual” who has a lot of dedication. Stewart said the love and devotion she has for her husband Aldo is “something to see.”
“I think everyone should look up to this lady,” he said, adding she managed to stay focused and true to her love for Aldo even during the busy time she was a council member.
Bertolini said the award is bittersweet because you hope that you are never in “this situation.”
“I’m humbled because I am one of thousands that are taking care of Alzheimer’s patients,” she said, adding that the award really belongs to every caregiver. “I am happy to represent all the caregivers and am really thrilled.”
It took until Thursday for the award to sink in after she received a surprise visit on Nov. 30 from Executive Director Dotty St. Amand, social worker Lisa Troulis and social work student intern Leigh Ann Hagedorn at her home with a bouquet of flowers donated by Ruth Messmer Florist. She said they arrived shortly after she was done working in her yard.
“I was just shocked by the whole thing,” Bertolini said.
St. Amand said the Project Spotlight is a great opportunity for them to acknowledge all of the hard work that caregivers do.
“It is our privilege to be able to honor them,” she said. “It’s meant to recognize everything caregivers are doing on a daily basis.”
This is the fourth year the Dubin Center has provided Project Spotlight for caregivers.
Bertolini has been married to her husband, Aldo, for almost 55 years. From the beginning they made a promise that they would take care of each other, which held a new meaning 10 years ago when Aldo was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
After trying to manage Aldo by herself, Bertolini found the Dubin Center when she began reaching out for help six years ago.
“They have become my second family because they are intertwined in what is going on,” she said. They are a “very caring, very functional system and it really works.”
She said there is not a question that the Dubin Center cannot answer and if they stumble upon a question they do not have an answer for they will get back to you before the end of the day. The center also provides a support group on the first and third Thursday of the month by a member of the Dubin Center.
“You find out that you are not alone,” she said about the support group that has really helped her.
When Bertolini served as a council member for Cape Coral she brought forth the idea of Project Life Saver bracelet, which is a radio transmission identification bracelet program for those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Bertolini said after St. Amand told her about the bracelets, she knew they needed it in Cape Coral. She explained that currently they have 27 clients who use the bracelets which can be monitored through the Cape Coral Police Department.
“There is a lot of good that has come from the Dubin Center,” she said.
With the bracelet comes an emergency number that Bertolini can call if Aldo wanders away.
“They are just like children, it can happen in a flash,” she said.
After the call is made, Bertolini said between eight and 20 minutes later they can find him. She explained that the device is the first of its kind that has ever been used that has had great success.
“It is a real comfort for me,” Bertolini said.
Although she said she is living with a man who is comfortable, he has many days where he does not remember who she is.
“I take one day at a time,” Bertolini said. “You take what the good Lord gives you. I will take care of him for as long as it requires.”