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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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