Regional resources help loved ones
White-haired Hilda did her best to beat the high score in a
guessing game called
Wednesday morning at the Hollister Senior Center. Roberto had
the score to beat
– he only guessed wrong twice. For the game, the dealer laid out
15 cards face down on the table. When each player turns over the
first card, they have to decide if the next one will be higher or
For most people, it would be a game of chance more than a game
of skill. However, this group of seniors isn’t just hanging out for
a friendly card game. They are enrolled in an Alzheimer’s Day Care
Resource Center and the game is meant to help keep their minds
sharp while delaying the onset of more severe symptoms.
Regional resources help loved ones
White-haired Hilda did her best to beat the high score in a guessing game called “Card Sharks” Wednesday morning at the Hollister Senior Center. Roberto had the score to beat – he only guessed wrong twice. For the game, the dealer laid out 15 cards face down on the table. When each player turns over the first card, they have to decide if the next one will be higher or lower.
For most people, it would be a game of chance more than a game of skill. However, this group of seniors isn’t just hanging out for a friendly card game. They are enrolled in an Alzheimer’s Day Care Resource Center and the game is meant to help keep their minds sharp while delaying the onset of more severe symptoms.
Rosanna Messina, an activities assistant, leads the game and encourages each person to keep guessing. For the group, the work is not only in guessing if the next card will be higher or lower, but also in using hand-eye coordination to turn over the card and recognizing the value of their card before they make a guess.
Two other assistants help with the small group and they are bilingual to help with a few clients who speak Spanish. When Roberto wants his jacket taken off, he tells Maria Salcedo that he is “caliente” or hot. She helps him take off his blue jacket the way he wants to – he likes to pull the jacket over his head and then pull his arms out of the sleeves the same way one might remove a pullover.
“He’s been coming here a long time,” Salcedo said. “He never misses a day.”
In the middle of the game Elizabeth, the client who has been attending day care the longest repeated, “I’m thirsty,” several times in a row. Rachel Zapata, another assistant, brought her a cup of water from a cooler in the corner of the room.
In the end, Ted, who is new to the program, won the game of high/low with only one wrong guess. Messina promised him a prize to take home at the end of the day for his win.
Jovenes de Antaño has offered the Alzheimer’s day care center since 1989 and it is meant to relieve family caregivers or other unpaid caregivers a few days a week. The center caters to any adult with moderate to severe dementia, which can be caused by a variety of illnesses or accidents.
“People have to be diagnosed with dementia or a memory problem,” said Christina Andrade, the program director for the day care. “It can be caused by a stroke, Parkinson’s disease and it doesn’t have to be an older person’s disease. It can be caused by a brain tumor, an accident or a fall.”
The day care center, which is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., has six to 10 clients at a time. The staff members who work with the clients have a background in nursing or the care giving industry.
“This is supposed to be a pre-step to going into a nursing home,” Andrade said. “We try to keep the people out of the nursing home a little bit longer than what would probably happen.”
With that in mind, the days at the center are full of activities to keep dementia patients in shape mentally and physically.
“In the morning we work on memory with memory recall games, fill in the blank or complete the sentence,” Andrade said. “In the afternoon, we have more active games such as adaptive bowling or adaptive basketball, baseball and arts and crafts.”
The walls are decorated with Valetine’s -themed arts made by the group, including paper hearts with smiley faces, legs and arms. Two times a week therapists visit from Gavilan Community College to lead the group in armchair aerobics.
“Its very important to keep their minds as stimulated as possible without over stimulating them,” Andrade said. “It helps keep their mind functioning.”
Gilroy offers a similar adult day care program that accepts clients with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Live Oak Adult Day Services runs five adult day care programs in Santa Clara County. The Gilroy site opened in 1993 at Wheeler Manor. The program accepts people 60 years and older who are not able to live independently, need support in their daily activities and will benefit from social experience and stimulation.
The program offers adaptive physical activities, arts and crafts and a chance to interact with others, much like the Jovenes De Antaño day care center. Both programs offer their services on a sliding scale based on family incomes so that anyone can afford the program. Live Oak’s fees range from $14 – $52 a day.
Both centers offer Alzheimer’s support groups to help educate families and friends of those diagnosed with the illness.
There are other options for families who need supervised care for their relatives but who are not ready to place them in a nursing home. The Village Green, a senior living community, plans to complete a portion of their development dedicated to seniors with memory problems in spring 2006.
Called the Courtyard, the building will contain 60 units for seniors in need of assisted living. Thirty-five of the units will be dedicated to people with cognitive impairment from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
“Our program is designed so that people are actually being challenged,” said Alex Mawhinney, the general manager of the Village Green. “We want to support the memory they have and build on what they have and maintain as much of that as possible.”
The assisted living units at Village Green are built around a courtyard and it is secure so residents cannot wander out of the area without supervision. The units are set up as studio apartments and some have private baths. Some units share a bathroom per two apartments. They are currently accepting reservations for the homes, which will be available in a few months. The apartments run from $3,900 to $4,500 a month and include all services, from food to activities to 24-hour staff that are available to help the residents.
The staff will be trained in caring for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Like the day care programs, a doctor’s recommendation has to be provided to ensure that a client is suited for the program.
“An outside doctor or physician has to make the referral and say that it is the appropriate level of care,” Mawhinney said.
The Alzheimer’s Association – 800-272-3900 or www.alznorcal.org
Bay Area Caregiver Resource Center – 800-445-8106 or www.caregiver.org
Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center – 800-624-8304 or www.hpcn.org
Day Break Caregivers Support Group – Meets at 651 W. Sixth St., the third Fri. of each month from 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Caregivers Support Group – Meets at 300 West St., in Hollister, the second Wed. of each month from 1: 30 – 3 p.m.