Because caregiving for a loved one living with dementia can be a lonely job 24/7. . .

Because it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves when we take care of others . . .

Because caregivers need a little TLC too . . .

Launching its first “Day Off for Caregivers,” The Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program (The Brown Center), a partnership of Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit and JVS Human Services, recently hosted a welcome retreat at the Best Western Premier in Southfield, Michigan. Caregivers, together with their loved ones living with dementia, were pampered from morning to afternoon with complimentary food and drink, gentle yoga and massage, music and art therapy – all in a day to relax and recharge. The program is made possible through the generous support of the Dee dee and Michael Perlman Caregivers Fund.

For those who remember Dee dee (z”l) and Michael Perlman for their longtime service and philanthropy on behalf of the Jewish community, it will come as no surprise that their daughter and son, Dana Perlman and Jeffrey Perlman, have not let time and distance diminish their family ties to Jewish Detroit. Dana, 38, is Senior V.P. of Business Development and Investor Relations at PVH, a global apparel company headquartered in New York. Based in Singapore, Jeff, 35, is Managing Director, Head of Southeast Asia for Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm. Together, Dana and Jeff have continued to support the Detroit Jewish community with their annual donations as well as through the management of their parents’ Philanthropic Fund with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. 

Active with the Women’s Executive Circle, part of the UJA Federation New York, Dana noted, “One of the things our parents taught us was to give back. My mom felt strongly in particular about giving back to the Jewish community through Federation, so even though my brother and I are part of the brain drain – Detroiters living in New York and overseas – we still contribute to the Jewish community where we grew up.”   

Asked about their decision to establish the Dee dee and Michael Perlman Caregivers Fund, Dana shared that she and her brother had often talked about the ways they might honor their parents by creating an endowment fund specifically to help support the needs of those caring for loved ones with dementia – a cause that hits close to home.

The Perlman Family: (R to L) Jefffrey, Dee dee, Dana, Michael and Liz (Jeffrey’s wife).

“After my mother passed away suddenly in 2012, I became the caregiver for my father,” Dana explains. “I’m fortunate to have full-time aides to help him now, but I understand the daily needs and burden of responsibility my mother had when my dad was first diagnosed with dementia. My brother and I know first-hand what it is to be a care partner on the journey of dementia and how important it is to have some respite – a time and place for self-care.”

Reflecting on the contribution of his parents and their legacy in the Detroit community, Jeff added, “Dana and I have had the blessings of remarkable parents working tirelessly for their kids and still finding a way to devote a critical part of their own time to the Jewish Federation and Jewish Apartments (now Jewish Senior Life)  – an agency where my dad served as President as well as a consulting attorney for many years. And those who knew my mom may well recall her persistence as a Federation fundraiser. People knew when she came calling, she was going to encourage their donations and follow through with their commitment on behalf of the community. When you’re a kid and see that as your role model, you learn how important it is to give back.”

“Now it’s our turn”

“A Day Off for Caregivers is a program we look to grow substantially in time,” Jeff continued, “It’s such an important cause and one that can be overlooked because families tend to be inward when caring for a member living with dementia. Our hope is that the program will not only create greater awareness of the needs of care partners, but also help to build a network and ecosystem of community support.”

According to Debra Yamstein of The Brown Center, A Day Off for Caregivers is a program that had been on the wish list for some time. “It’s an offshoot of a program I visited at a national conference and, when I saw how it affected care partners in such a positive way, we jumped at the opportunity when Federation Endowment Director, Stacey Deweese, came to us with the prospect of a special fund for caregivers after her discussion with Jeff and Dana.”  

“What a home run of a program”

Attending the inaugural Day Off for Caregivers held in April, Stacey noted that she saw all the activities of the day in motion, both for the care partners and for the family members with dementia. “The compassion and care exhibited by the staff and volunteers was incredibly touching,” she said. “There was delicious food and drink and laughter aplenty, and I left the event in awe of how our community takes care of its own. That Dana and Jeff helped launch the program from their own experience exemplifies what we want to be as a community, all the stronger, working together.”

With thanks to the care, philanthropy and foresight of both generations of the Perlman family, A Day Off for Caregiversis to be held once again in November, and biannually moving forward. The program is free and open to the public – with the goal to provide a day for respite, self-care and friendship to care partners, knowing that their loved one is engaged and cared for by professionals. Additionally, participants are encouraged to network and to partake in the educational programs and many resources available through the Brown Center. Mark the dates: 

  • Learn to “PAC” – A Positive Approach to Care. Become a PAC Certified Independent Coach in a two-day training session, August 1 – 2.
    For a more detailed description of the Coach Course, click here
  • Brown Center’s Dementia-Friendly Yom Kippur Service, 11:00 a.m., Sunday, September 16 at Fleischman Residence/ Blumberg Plaza, 6710 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield, Mich., 48322. A luncheon will follow the service. There is no fee to attend.

About the Brown Program

A joint program of JVS and Jewish Senior Life, the Brown Center operates one program in two locations: on the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Jewish Community Campus at 6720 W. Maple in West Bloomfield and at the JVS Rose and Sidney Diem Building at 29699 Southfield Road in Southfield. Currently, the Program serves approximately 100 participants, ranging in age from 53 to 98. With a minimum participation requirement of two days a week, three hours a day, most of the participants in the Program attend an average of 17.5 hours a week. While participants enjoy a full schedule of music, art, gardening, pet therapy and other stimulating activities including outings into the community, care partners also benefit from respite, support services and referrals to community resources to help them care for their family members and for themselves.

To learn more about A Day Off for Caregivers, the Brown Center and its programs, please call Dorothy Moon, 248-233-4392. Online visit jhelpdetroit.org

About Federation’s Centennial Fund

Federation’s Centennial Fund is the central endowment campaign for ensuring the long-term security of Jewish Detroit and will support a number of core areas, including Social Needs, Jewish Identity and Education, and Global Jewish Responsibility. 

To send a tribute to the Dee dee and Michael Perlman Caregivers Fund, visit Federation online.

 For more information about Federation’s Centennial Campaign, please contact Stacey Deweese, 248-205-2547 / Deweese@jfmd.org

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