Grant enhances dementia resource center

For four years, Memory Makers has offered respite day services for dementia caregivers in the L-O-U community.

It’s also a resource center of information – for people dealing with dementia in a loved one, for people who realize dementia will eventually touch most families and even for healthcare professionals.
The nonprofit organization was awarded a $2,500 grant this week from the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation.

“We’ve given over the last few years about $1.7 million in grants,” said Roger Baumgart, the foundation’s executive director. “Every year our ability to grant increases, and we find worthy grantees, and this is certainly one of them. Hopefully everybody will enjoy the benefits this provides.”

Memory Makers board member Jo Ann O’Quin, a longtime gerontology professor at the University of Mississippi, remarked that Home Instead’s educational programs “are absolutely wonderful. As an educator, I use your programs a lot.”

Memory Makers will use the funds to expand its library of information about Alzheimer’s, other dementias and the many kinds of issues related to their treatment and care. The group already has an extensive collection of books, but the additional funding will expand both its lending library and the books and shorter materials that Memory Makers can give away.

“We’ve made up a little packet of brochures to give to everyone who calls or come by for information – facts about diagnosis, what dementia is, taking care of the caregiver, the basics of Alzheimer’s and facts about wandering,” said Dianne Arnold, the group’s founder and an Alzheimer’s counselor retired from the State Department of Mental Health. “We figure most people, whether they need it or not right now, they’ve going to need it sometime.”

Among the many books already in the lending library are the popular “Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul,” “Therapeutic Caregiving,” “Confidence to Care,” “Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s” and “Stages of Senior Care.”

O’Quin noted the need to give “The 36-Hour Day,” one of the most popular books for Alzheimer’s caregivers, to all comers, along with public domain publications.

“Even copying materials costs money,” she said.
Last year Memory Makers moved from its three-year home on Heritage Drive to a more spacious suite in the same building. The relocation allows different rooms for different activities – some quiet, some more rambunctious – along with a dedicated resource room and a counseling office.

The most visible part of Memory Makers’ service is its day respite program. For four hours a day on four days a week, the program provides a safe, cheerful, active, fun place for people with memory loss. It gives their caregivers – most often spouses or other family members – time to do errands or doctors’ appointments, visit with friends or simply catch up on often desperately needed rest.
Memory Makers is the second respite program Arnold has created. She became an Alzheimer’s trainer and counselor after being the caregiver for her own father, who lived several years with the disease.

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