Share |

Alzheimer's Day Care center and service

Special to the Metro

With the growing numbers of aging baby boomers, cases of age-related dementia, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease, are being seen more frequently across the country.

Dementia is hard on those who have it, as it traps its patients inside themselves, isolating them from once familiar people and surroundings, but it is extremely stressful for caregivers as well, as they witness the loved one they knew fading away mentally but still present physically, and sometimes suffering the brunt of a patient’s irrational behavior or even violent outbursts.

Virginia Griffin, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Outreach Center in Albany, spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County recently. The center, located at the intersection of North Jefferson Street and Roosevelt Avenue, offers both on-site daycare and in-home respite service.

There are different types of dementia, she explained; Alzheimer’s Disease just happens to be one of the most prevalent.

“We deal with dementia,” she said, but “it’s not a normal part of aging.” However, “The longer we live, the more likely we are to deal with it. It’s most common after the age of 65.” After the age of 85, one out of every four persons becomes at risk for it. People in their 40s and 50s have also been known to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Some signs or symptoms of dementia are fear, nervousness, sadness, anger, depression, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, and changes in mood and personality. Other common indicators include agitation, confusion, and suspicion (especially in the early stages). Alzheimer’s patients also sometimes behave in an inappropriate sexual manner.

Daycare or in-home respite provide an opportunity for caregivers to have a break for errands or other outings. Stress relief is necessary for caregivers to maintain their own mental and physical health.

The outreach center also does community education. A recent initiative called Dementia Friendly Community focuses on local businesses to teach employers and employees how to deal with customers who may signs of dementia.

“If you have good verbal skills,” said Griffin, “if you have a culture of customer services, you already have much of what you need to provide great service to people with dementia. Kindness, common sense, avoiding stress, using good communication skills and smiles go a long way.”

The Alzheimer’s Outreach Center offers a free course on dealing with dementia. “If you’re interested in training we can come to your place or you can come to us, however you want to do it,” she added.

Businesses that complete the training can have a “Dementia Friendly” sticker to place in their windows showing that they have gone through the approximate one-hour course.

“We’re seeing more and more (dementia cases), especially in the Alzheimer’s column,” said Griffin. “I’d like to see more businesses with stickers in their windows.”

There are required steps to enrolling someone in the daycare program. Griffin explained, “We’re glad to sit down with (someone) and explain it. We welcome people to come in and look at our program. We invite them to bring their family or their family member and just kind of try it out.” Then, “We do refer them back to the (Sowega) Council on Aging and they do the official screening and required paperwork. We try to make sure that we’re a really good fit for the person.”


Alzheimer’s Daycare Center executive director Virginia Griffin displays a “Dementia Friendly” sticker that businesses can place in their windows. (Photo by David Shivers)