Gratitude to Banner Sun Health Research Institute Leads to Passion for Giving Back

Carol Safford

Carol Safford learned to cope and help her partner, Martha, through Alzheimer's disease, thanks to the support and expertise of BSHRI. Carol honors BSHRI by giving back with an IRA charitable rollover and generous estate gift.

In her quest to learn everything possible to help her partner, Martha, through the ravages of Alzheimer's disease, Carol Safford logged hundreds of hours in seminars offered by Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI). She attended caregiver support groups, and signed up Martha for brain health programs. Carol's tenacity was equal to her love and commitment for Martha, who eventually died from this unrelenting disease.

Along their journey, Carol and Martha found an ally who deeply changed their experience—Lori Nisson, Family & Community Services Director for BSHRI and Banner Alzheimer's Institute. Not only did Lori serve as Martha's social worker, but she also guided Carol to life-changing programs and services.

"Most everything I learned about Alzheimer's and dementia was through Lori's seminars," Carol says. "I just learned so much. And it was all free."

Probably the most personally significant education Carol received was understanding "ambiguous loss." Caregivers such as Carol find themselves coping with a different type of profound loss, which occurs when a person with dementia is physically present but psychologically absent. Caregiver stress and burden is sometimes misunderstood, with the real culprit being this ambiguous loss, which is unclear, has no resolution and no closure. The challenge for caregivers is to learn how to become more comfortable with this ambiguity and acquire new strategies to relate to the person with dementia.

Because of the care both she and Martha received from BSHRI, and the gratitude she continues to feel for Lori, Carol has chosen to give back to the organization through an IRA charitable rollover every year. Then, eventually, half of Carol's estate will be gifted to BSHRI to help others facing similar journeys.

"It's been a privilege to be connected to Banner Sun Health Research Institute," Carol says. "I don't know what I would have done without them."

By supporting others going through similar experiences, you can honor the memory of a loved one and those who helped you through the journey. Learn more about making a meaningful gift by contacting Kristie Leshinskie, MPH, CAP® at 480-215-7433 or