When Chuck Gaidica was at one of his lowest points, he found comfort from one of his most loyal friends.
“She’s chewing my ear and licking my face.”
To Gaidica’s surprise, his two-year-old puppy became the source of relief, albeit temporary, from the deep grief of losing both his parents within a 4-month period in 2019. “And I just thought, I don’t know, dog spelled backwards is God. There’s a reason that dogs are what they are, you know?”
Chuck Gaidica told PurposeCity Podcast host Ken McMullen his heartbreak over his mother’s death from Alzheimer’s Disease and his father’s passing from a surprise brain tumor – in such a short period of time – became the lynchpin for getting involved in yet another charitable cause: the Alzheimer’s Association of Michigan.
Ken McMullen: “When you’re involved in charities for Alzheimer’s, is it looking for a cure? Is it research? And/or is it the comfort of these people, and how to caretake for them, and the family support?”
Chuck Gaidica: It’s all of the above. When we found out that my mom had it … I mean, that was a heavy day, because at that point, she was still obviously able to tell what’s going on in life, and she knows what the diagnosis means. But right after that, and through her entire journey of about seven years or so, we called Alzheimer’s Association several times. Part of it, a huge part is research. They keep coming up with drug therapies and they haven’t found one yet. They’ve they got several that can take the edge off and maybe sharpen you a little bit, make things a little brighter … And then, part of it is comfort, and a huge part of it is caregiving.”
Ken McMullen: “And it seems like the hardest part would be the length of time, isn’t it? I mean, the toll on the family the years. It’s not a quick…”
Chuck Gaidica: “Right. And so, that in itself, for people who are looking to do good, doing good doesn’t have to be the big thing, right? (i.e. hosting a large charitable event). It can be the caregiving in your family’s life.”
The “big thing” in Chuck Gaidica’s life now is using his experience of caring for mom and dad, and walking alongside others going through similar struggles. He became a wellness coach through the Mayo Clinic program, telling PurposeCity that caregivers will burnout if they don’t address their own needs.
“When you get on a jetliner … and the yellow oxygen masks drop down, they always tell you, ‘put yours on first before you turn to even your own child’ because if you pass out, you can’t help them … that’s the best analogy in life for being a caregiver.”
He also involves himself in what’s known as “pre-habilitation” Not rehabilitation. “Don’t wait until you get sick. How about we try to get better and well and healthier before we get to the freight train that’s coming?”