Jo Huey formed a company in 1999, Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute, because she wanted to dedicate all her free time to assist caregivers. She has a grand idea that everyone facing Alzheimer’s or a related dementia should be able to find assistance that would not only make the journey easier but enjoyable. Little did she know that in the next year she would be taking this journey with her own mother.
The business was more of a “hobby” business, as Jo worked full time as the director of Alzheimer’s Residential Care Homes, a group of six homes in New Orleans, which she implemented on a model she had developed in the early nineties in Colorado. She completed her Master’s Degree Thesis in 2000 for the University of Colorado (while living in New Orleans – what a commute!) titled “Effectiveness of Training for Alzheimer’s Caregivers”. Both her thesis and her first book, “Alzheimer’s Disease: Help and Hope” were designed around her “Ten Absolutes,” a well known communication tool she developed in 1996.
She has given presentations on the “Ten Absolutes” as a community education presentation and a marketing tool for Alzheimer’s Residential Care Homes. Often, she would be asked to speak in other venues so she would take vacation time then travel to deliver her message from Florida to Colorado. For this she received pay and put the money into the company. She joined National Speakers Association in 2001, to learn how to improve her speaking. In addition to receiving assistance and advice, she developed a rapport with this great organization. Having an attitude of helping and giving to her community, she volunteered her assistance in NSA and was selected to the Executive Board and subsequently to the Presidency. In June 2005 she was inducted as President of the NSA New Orleans Chapter for the year 2005-2006.
Jo loves everything about New Orleans and has had many opportunities to serve on local boards. she participated in the legislative sessions to advocate for better care for elderly and especially for persons with Alzheimer’s disease. She has had the opportunity to chair committees, and hold offices on the local boards. In July 2005 she was named one of the Ten Top Female Achievers by New Orleans Magazine. She started writing her second book “Don’t Leave Momma Home With The Dog” based on the story of her and her mother in the Alzheimer’s Journey. However, August 29, 2005 truly changed her life, forever. Evacuating the Alzheimer’s Residential Care Homes from Hurricane Katrina was planned and successful. However, when they couldn’t go back to New Orleans they settled in a little town in Southern Louisiana only to be faced with a mandatory evacuation from Hurricane Rita. After settling her 25 persons with Alzheimer’s disease and saying good bye to her staff of 12 loyal people who stayed with the group 4 weeks and 1 day, she and her mother journeyed to a Chicago suburb to live with her son. However, the family thought her mother should go home to Colorado. So Jo took her mother to live in a wonderful home just a little larger than some of the homes Jo had directed in New Orleans.
Jo decided to expand her “hobby” company to be her primary place of employment and started concentrating in her business, renaming it Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute, so there would be no question about what she did or whom she served. The year 2006 was spent speaking nationally from Florida to Arizona about the topic of Emergency Preparedness which was new and not one she had originally and purposefully designed. She became known for having successfully evacuated a group of people from two national disasters, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, and everyone was interested in the story. She quickly became known as “The Hurricane Lady” which then morphed into “Hurricane Huey.” For these presentations she developed yet another set of absolutes called “The Ten Absolutes of Disaster Preparedness” and asked the question, “Are You Really Prepared?”
Having become a long distance caregiver for her mother expanded her knowledge of care-giving and she rewrote the book “Don’t Leave Momma Home With The Dog.” Jo was reluctant to “let go of the book” because the story was very personal for she shared with the world all the mistakes she had made as a caregiver. The book became the basis for yet another set of Absolutes “Ten Absolutes for Caregiver Decision Making.” The book had many pre sale venues but it didn’t officially arrive until October 2007. Jo’s mother passed away September 19, 2007.
Jo continued Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute and moved back to New Orleans in June 2007, just in time for “heat and hurricanes.” There was heat but fortunately no Hurricanes. Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute has a tag line, “Raising the Standard of Alzheimer’s care by changing chaos to peace, tears to smiles and struggles to loving memories.”
Currently Jo provides speaking, consulting and training for Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute. The plans for the institute are impressive and ultimately it will be a full training institute for anyone who comes into contact with a person with a disability. It will be a retreat center for caregivers to rest and to learn how to enjoy their time together with a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Jo has a waiting list of staff to man the center.