News / Health

Improving Quality of Life for Alzheimer’s Patients, Caregivers

Faiza Elmasry
As America's elderly population grows, so, too, does the need for specialized care for adults with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. A facility in Fairfax, Virginia, provides that care, and also supports the children and spouses who are the seniors' primary care-givers at home.

Linda Roberts' mother - like more than 5 million Americans - has Alzheimer’s.

“I went to visit her five years ago, found out some stuff was going on. I packed her up that weekend and took her home,” said Roberts.

She joined the more than 15 million family members and friends caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Roberts said it has been devastating to watch her mother struggling with the incurable brain-wasting disease. Being her mother's sole caregiver, she added, also is daunting.

“It’s extremely stressful being a full time caregiver-keeping my patience, trying to over and over repeat things that I need to get done. I think that’s my frustration,” she said.

Two years ago, Roberts found help at the Alzheimer’s Family Day Center, where adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia can spend the day in a supervised, enriching environment… much like a daycare center for young children. The facility is open on weekdays from early in the morning to late in the afternoon.

“It’s really given me time to do things during the day and pursue some hobbies or have some time to myself,” said Howard Simmons, who began bringing his wife to the daycare center three years ago.

“She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in about (20)06. In about '07, '08, I was becoming quite frustrated because when you’re the principal caregiver and they are home, you’re doing everything. You know, I became the cook, the cleaner,” he said.

The retired civil engineer said having his wife here every day eases his mind. He knows she’s in a safe place, taken care of and well-fed.

“We serve breakfast, we serve lunch and two snacks a day,” said Lisa Wright, the facility's program manager. She noted that the staff also provides a wide variety of activities that are therapeutic, and fun.

“We have an artist come in and do just specific art with small groups. We have musical therapy where we have a lady that brings in instruments and they all get to play the instruments. We have a physical therapist here two days a week," said Wright.

"We have a ballroom dancer that comes in. I think that's probably the favorite. We do a lot of mind-challenging games. The other day I stepped in to do some activities and we focused on pairs, so we talked about what comes in pairs. So we do brain exercise type of activities, as well,” said Wright.

Medical care also is available.

“We have a nurse practitioner that comes once a month. We have a fulltime nurse on staff. We can handle almost everything right here during those hours,” said Wright.

In addition, the center offers services for caregivers.

“We have a support group that they can come and just share with one another. We have an outreach and education. [If] there are issues at home, our social worker would go make a home visit and maybe some suggestions on how to make things easier,” said Wright.

 Galeet BenZion has relied on that help. When her husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, in his mid-fifties, the teacher and education researcher become, for all practical purposes, a single mother of two young daughters.

“The first thing I felt was that I really need a lot whole of support because I didn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s. I certainly wasn’t prepared to be alone at age of 45, meaning, take care of a house and kids and mortgage and everything else that life entails,” said BenZion.

Caregiver Howard Simmons said it is reassuring to meet with other caregivers, and share experiences and advice. He’s grateful that such services are available for him, and his wife.

“I can’t say she’s improved, but it gives her something to do. She enjoys it,” he said.

That’s what makes this day care center a special place for Alzheimer’s patients - and their families.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sappy
March 24, 2013 2:53 AM
My grandma is also Alzheimer. She is also go to the day service center twice a week. She cannot cook anymore. But days which no the day service, she goes to supermaket everyday. And She buys a lot of stuffs and comes back to the home... For example, it's alcohols, eggs, meats and so on. My mother and father are in trouble ;(


by: Headline Books from: Terra Alta, WV
March 23, 2013 2:08 PM
If you're a caregiver to an Alzheimer's patient, you need to get "Alzheimer's Care With Dignity" by Frank Fuerst. Frank cared for his wife June for 17 years after her early-onset diagnosis. His book, written from personal experience, is packed with practical, invaluable advice. http://amzn.to/MEDHWA

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid