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Caregiving

Adult Day Services of Orange County
www.adultdayservice...
Photo Courtesy of Adult Day Services of Orange County
Photo Courtesy of Adult Day Services of Orange County

"lNow that I have Alzheimer's disease, most people talk about me, not with me. It's rare that I get a chance to let others know what life is really like for me. Since my diagnosis, I've had to give up driving and hardly see my old friends any more. If someone's not telling me what to do, they're trying to do it for me . . .


But not at the center . . . My wife reminds me I've been coming for six months. When I first came, I was reluctant in the morning, but by the end of the day I was loving it. When I get to the center, Judy has coffee and juice ready — and we all visit. At first I didn't know anybody. Now I consider them all my interesting friends. We talk about everything — our lives, our families, the news — and about what's happening to our brains. I can't totally believe I have Alzheimer's disease. I know I'm forgetful, but I don't feel any different. I want to fight my disease. Judy gets us involved in activities that help our memory. I've learned cues to help me remember the names of my friends at the center. Sometimes we practice the names of famous faces and places; other times we play games like Password to help make it easier to remember words. If a tool isn't used, it gets rusty. If the mind isn't used it decays. This program puts ideas under your ken. I must admit it's hard to practice things that came automatically before. After class, Judy changes the pace, taking us out for a walk at a park or the beach. One of the best parts of the day is going out to lunch at the Blue Water Grill in Newport Beach or one of our other favorite restaurants. When we get back to the center, we ready for another class, art therapy or a group discussion. It just seems that everyone has an interesting story to tell. When I go home, now I have something to share. I feel the best when I do come because of the activities and the companionship. I realize I'm not alone in this Alzheimer's disease thing and that everyone here is caring. There is no pressure." Alzheimer's is a progressive disease. At first, families try to handle full-time caregiving on their own. As dementia progresses caregivers find themselves sandwiched between jobs, their families and the demands of caring for a frail elder. Every day families trust the Adult Day Services of Orange County (ADSOC) with their most treasured possessions...their loved ones. ADSOC provides hope through three levels of care for the frail elderly and their families: With funding from the Archstone Foundation, the Adult Activities Center(AAC) was created due to the absence of services for mildly impaired dementia patients in Orange County. AAC programs help to combat two symptoms that have been identified as early indicators of Alzheimer's disease and may precede memory and other cognitive problems by two to three years -- apathy and social withdrawal. While AAC has proven to help the clients at these stages, their experiences have shown them there is more they can do. There is an earlier stage of the disease that can be addressed to provide benefits to the older adult who is in the first stages of Alzheimer's disease. This group of early Alzheimer's disease patients is not looking for recreational activities, but for ways that they can fight the dementia. As a result, this project developed a two-tier program where patients in the earliest stages receive specific, non-pharmacological, interventions to enhance their cognitive functioning. When these patients are no longer able to benefit from these interventions, they are shifted to the second tier. At this level, patients are losing the verbal and cognitive abilities needed in the first tier, but remain relatively independent. These participants, while growing increasingly impaired, do not yet require the high level of supervision or assistance provided in ADSOC's traditional social day care and adult day health care programs. By developing this two-tier model program for early stage patients, ADSOC has been able to provide a full continuum of care from the earliest to the latest stages of dementia. This is a model of older adult care that has gone far to provide the flexible programs needed to address the progressive nature of Alzheimer's disease. In Orange County, over 40,000 older adults have dementia. Projections have the number of persons affected by Alzheimer's disease quadrupling by the year 2040. These families need help.


   

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