Carole Klingler is the CEO and cofounder of LIFE: A Dementia Friendly Foundation, a faith-based nonprofit that partners with individuals who are living with dementia, and their caregivers, to provide resources, education, and engaging activities that improve their quality of life. Based outside of Cleveland in northeastern Ohio, LIFE stands for “Linking Individuals and Families through Education and Engagement” and serves various rural communities in Lorain County. While most dementia support groups only meet monthly, LIFE’s weekly, four-hour programming at three locations—provided in local churches—offers a significant boost in much-needed support at no cost to the caregivers or individuals dealing with this debilitating disease.
As people enjoy longer life spans, they are also at risk of developing a number of medical conditions, including various memory and brain disorders that fall under the category of dementia. These types of ailments present family-care issues and costs for the person suffering from the disease as well as those around them. In fact, caring for someone with dementia is associated with increased risks for depression, stress, burnout, and other poor health outcomes for caregivers, who oftentimes find themselves in an overwhelming situation without proper training. This is where LIFE has stepped in to provide a safe, stable, and familiar environment to help care for those living with dementia and their family members with love and dignity.
Founded in late 2016, LIFE has helped improve the quality of day-to-day life of more than 150 participants with the help of dozens of volunteers, including many high school and nursing students. LIFE breaks down social isolation and builds a community for those facing similar life situations and challenges. Participants and caregivers are encouraged to engage in activities geared toward their interests and abilities, including Memory Cafés, which offer exercise, music therapy, and arts and crafts for participants, and educational or training sessions for caregivers. Through a variety of philanthropic and voluntary partnerships with local businesses, churches, health-care professionals, and other community organizations, LIFE is able to offer educational sessions on respite care, elder law, occupational therapy, Medicare, and assisted living options, as well as provide lunch every day.
A registered nurse, Klingler began her career in the ICU at a Cleveland hospital, and served 10 years as Director of Nursing for Kendal at Oberlin, a continuing retirement community. Since 2010, she has served as the Lorain County Team Leader and Community Facility Coordinator for Hospice of Western Reserve, Northeast Ohio’s largest nonprofit hospice and palliative care organization. Klingler holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and one of three “master trainers” for Dementia Friends Ohio.
In 2020, Klingler and LIFE were recognized with a Manhattan Institute Civil Society Award.
Learn more about Klingler’s work at https://dflife.org.