Local Resident Develops Tool To Help Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Local resident Judi Hildebrandt developed the Alzheimer’s Card as a tool for caregivers, friends and family of those suffering from the disease.

When Lillian Martucci was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 81, her family immediately sought information for caregivers. As the disease progressed, they found that taking her out in public became increasingly challenging.

“People just didn’t understand what was going on,” Hildebrandt recalled. “Sometimes small things would trigger my mom and she would become upset, confused or agitated. It was stressful for her, and it was stressful for us. I decided that there had to be a way to let people know that this wasn’t my mom, it was the disease. I made these cards and found them to be an extremely helpful, yet subtle, nonverbal way to communicate, without embarrassing myself or worse, my mom.”

She saw results from the idea immediately.

“The first time I used the card was at a restaurant,” Hildebrandt said. “The waitress went from irritated and impatient to compassionate almost immediately. She took her time with my mom, waited patiently for her to decide what she was having for lunch and turned to me and said, ‘My grandfather has it.’”

Hildebrandt gave the waitress the card to keep. “I gave her the card, and she was so appreciative, it was at that moment that it occurred to me that it could positively impact others in our situation,” she said. “This is something that the Alzheimer’s community needs.”

The Alzheimer’s Card is a sturdy plastic card that is discreetly held up or handed to a server, retailer, receptionist or the general public.

Once someone reads the message: “Please Be Patient, My Loved One Has Alzheimer’s,” the situation tends to goes from tense and stressful, to one of understanding and compassion.

It is a quick and simple solution to help others understand a difficult situation without compromising the dignity of the patient. Hildebrandt hopes to provide the cards not only as a resource, but as a mode of education.

“By being able to place these cards in places like doctors’ offices and hospitals, it is our hope that we can, in some small way, relieve the unbearable burden and stress imposed by this disease for both the caregiver and the patient,” she said.

Cards are available for purchase through a web site or on a Facebook page set up by Hildebrandt. For more information, visit www.subtlemessage.org. A portion of the proceeds of all sales will go to help fund Alzheimer’s education.

ABOVE: The Alzheimer’s Card is now available for purchase.


  1. This is a very well written article about something that is desperately needed. I have already purchased some to give to a co-worker who is caring for her father.

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