Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County moves into new building and provides local support | Local News

Established in 1982 with just one support group, the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County celebrates its 40th anniversary this year in a long-awaited new location.

The nonprofit, whose mission is to provide “life-changing support for people with dementia and their caregivers,” moved into its new building at 3531 S Broadway Ave this week. to Tyler.

“We are so excited that the old piano store has become available. This building suits our needs perfectly,” said Rebecca Smith, Education and Marketing Coordinator. , staff, day club program, community education, and our partnership with the Memory Assessment and Research Center at the University of Texas at Tyler. The Memory Center can now perform memory screenings and assessments in our new location.

Executive Director Stephanie Taylor said the new building allows the alliance to double its services and serve the community for years to come.

“We see about 2,400 customers a year and can now expand to meet growing demand,” Smith said. “People don’t know about us when they have a struggling loved one. More funding goes to finding a cure than helping people currently living with dementia. We want a cure but there is people who need care today.”

An estimated 1 in 3 seniors over the age of 65 will live with some form of dementia in the United States, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, according to the National Alzheimer’s Association. Translated to Smith County’s population, that means 13,000 people are or will be diagnosed with some form of dementia in their lifetime.

“There were 400,000 Texans in 2020 living with Alzheimer’s disease alone, not including other related dementias. Projections are 490,000 Texans by 2525,” Taylor said. “We now have the facilities and resources to meet this growing need.”

Tanya Dixon oversees client services and says they repeatedly express that they wish they had known about the Alzheimer’s Alliance sooner. “I would have saved myself the heartache and stress if I had heard about your services earlier,” is what she hears.

“When someone finally arrives, it’s urgent and they are in crisis. Our mission is to raise public awareness of early detection. We want people to reach out and take advantage of services when they start seeing signs and symptoms of dementia,” Dixon said.

Jeff Gottesman is an outstanding example of how community members benefit from the compassionate services of the Alzheimer’s Alliance. Jeff’s wife, Judy, was diagnosed two years before his death, just five days before his 61st birthday.

“In the years leading up to and following my wife’s death from Alzheimer’s disease, the alliance was there with practical help and guidance to get me through what were undoubtedly the darkest years of my life. life. Until I found this local resource, I was on my own because I had no family to support me,” Gottesman said. “My alliance counselor has become my family to guide me through my grief and is always available whenever I need help.”

Services covered by grants and private donors cost nothing to the community. The suggested donation for the day club is $40, but depends on the family’s ability to pay. Scholarships are available. Counseling sessions cost $40. Everything else is free. Alzheimer’s Alliance is looking for community volunteers for a day club, helping out in the office, giving information at health fairs. Seniors, students, junior league and caring citizens are welcome. Volunteer training is offered so no prior dementia experience is necessary.

“Alzheimer’s Alliance serves people with dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form. We equip family members and caregivers, offering education classes and a one-on-one, six-month REACH program (resources to improve the health of Alzheimer’s caregivers),” Smith said.

Maggie Edwards, Staff Social Worker, oversees the REACH program. Problematic behaviours, safety, personal care for the caregiver and stress management are some of the topics covered.

“Finding social support is especially important,” Smith said.

Among the services provided are:

Day Club, a social group for older people with dementia where they play games, listen to live music and have fun while their carer takes a four hour break. The new location increases the day club’s expansion from one to two days a week.

Respite for families through Smith County Home Health Agencies for up to forty hours per year.

Lifesaver Project. Time is of the essence and a geo-tracking bracelet is essential. 70% of people with Alzheimer’s will wander and 90% of any form of dementia will wander. “We work with law enforcement to track loved ones when they wander. Survival after wandering drops to 50% if the person is not located within 24 hours,” Smith said.

REACH: Resources to improve the health of caregivers with Alzheimer’s disease

Individual counseling with a licensed counselor for people with dementia and caregivers.

Dementia friendly initiative project. “We plan to include a website page listing companies and organizations that partner as dementia friends,” Smith said.

Education Series: Dementia 101 and Eldercare Law are examples of free workshops open to the community.

Contact Alzheimer’s Alliance if you notice memory loss in a way that affects daily activities or if you have signs such as getting lost, repeating questions and stories to the point that others notice it, difficulty dealing with bills or personality changes.

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