Monday, July 25, 2016

Focus on Dealing with Dementia: Program Aims to Help Those Newly Diagnosed



Sandy Perez, NorthBay Alzheimer's program manager
It's one thing to forget where you put your house keys, but another to forget your way home.

It can be a confusing and frightening time for anyone who has memory concerns, or who has been recently diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or any form of dementia.
NorthBay Healthcare has created a special program to help.

It's called "Wishes, Dreams, Memories: First Steps for the Newly Diagnosed," and the first-ever eight-session program begins this fall, thanks to a grant provided by Wells Fargo Advisors and the Lowe Family.

NorthBay Healthcare's memory care programs have been serving Solano County since 1995, when NorthBay established the Alzheimer's Resource Center in Vacaville, to provide information, referral, caregiver support groups and educational services for Alzheimer's patients and their families.

Then, the NorthBay Adult Day Center opened in 2003. As Solano County's only five-day, 12 hours per day social model program that includes meals, snacks, supervision and medication reminders, the Adult Day Center provides people with Alzheimer's an activity-packed program to keep them engaged, and to provide their caregivers with respite needs.

However, there is a missing link, according to Sandy Perez, NorthBay Alzheimer's program manager.

"We needed a way to provide early stage resources and support, by offering services that help through the entire journey, from diagnosis to end of life. With this new program in place, NorthBay Alzheimer's services has bridged the gap."
Understanding the Memory Loss Journey

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, Sandy explained.

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. "Memory loss is an example, and Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia."
Dementia can also be diagnosed following a stroke or some head injuries.

"If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your physician for further testing," Sandy recommended. "In some cases, medications can be prescribed to help delay the disease process."

How an Early Program Can Help

The new early stage program is designed to help educate and equip persons who have been recently diagnosed and their care partners for the journey ahead. In this new program, there will be an opportunity to begin documenting your life, and offer an opportunity to reminisce together. Educational workshops will better prepare you and your loved ones for decisions that may lie ahead. Support groups will also be available for the caretaker and for the person with the diagnosis, Sandy noted.

"We hope the program gives participants an opportunity to take a proactive approach after receiving a diagnosis for which there presently is no cure."

The "First Steps for the Newly Diagnosed" program will feature:
  • Techniques to manage stress
  • Medication
  • Caregiving resources
  • Current research and clinical trials
  • Home safety
  • Introduction to Nutrition
  • Financial planning and end-of-life decisions
  • Writing Your Legacy, documenting your Family Tree.

Each session, to be held at the Green Valley Health Plaza, 4520 Business Center Drive in Fairfield, is expected to last four hours, and lunch will be provided. The series is free of charge.

If you are interested or have questions please call Sandy Perez at (707) 333-5123 or sperez@northbay.org

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