Nearly 10 percent of all seniors in Florida have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and that problem is about to get worse. That was the warning that Alzheimer’s and dementia expert Dr. Sean Morrison gave those in attendance at a recent gathering organized by Naples philanthropist Patty Baker.
“Research shows that by 2025, there will be an estimated 720,000 individuals living with Alzheimer’s Disease in the state of Florida,” said Morrison, the Ellen and Howard C. Katz Professor and Chair of the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Programs like the dementia respite support groups and caregiver boot camps offered by the Naples Senior Center at JFCS are critical to meeting the needs of not just Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers but the people who care for them as well, Morrison explained, calling them “invaluable.”
“These services allow individuals with dementia the safety, community and care that they need to live as well and as long as possible,” Morrison said. “Families and caregivers throughout the Southwest Florida community are offered respite, relief and reassurance that both they and their loved ones are experiencing the best quality of life during what would be an otherwise very difficult time.”
The senior center facilitates eight weekly groups around the county that provide socialization and wellness for Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers. The groups work on language skills, memory techniques, relaxation techniques, socialization and self-esteem building through concentration and memory activities, art and music therapy, and more.
“Alzheimer’s patients require caregiver assistance 24 hours a day, especially in the late stages of the disease,” Morrison said. “Each patient averages two caregivers – many of whom are female family members and go unpaid for their services.”
Caregivers learn the tools they need to provide better support for their loved ones, relieve stress and manage daily activities through the senior center’s new caregiver boot camps, modeled after programs designed by UCLA researchers. The first boot camp, held in March, drew rave reviews from those who took part.
Baker put together the luncheon gathering to promote awareness of the resources available through the Naples Senior Center at JFCS. Nearly three dozen key influencers attended and met with Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, President/CEO of the Naples Senior Center at JFCS.
“I invited people who could spread the word about the program and Dr. Faffer’s extraordinary work with establishing the center and this program in particular,” Baker said. “My mother-in-law and sister-in-law both had issues, the former with dementia, the latter with Alzheimer’s, so I’ve had up-close and personal experience and watched the effects it had on family and friends.”
That personal connection led Baker’s husband, Jay, to join the Naples Senior Center at JFCS Board of Trustees this month.
“We are so proud to have the support of the Bakers,” Faffer said. “They truly care about the issues affecting seniors, as we do, and together we are committed to tackling the problems that Alzheimer’s and dementia pose in our community.”
To learn more about the dementia respite support groups offered through Naples Senior Center at JFCS, call geriatric social worker Rhonda Eisenberg, LMHC, at 239-325-4444 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the center’s caregiver boot camps, call 239-325-4444 and ask for Anne Chernin.