In the bull’s-eye of dementia
San Antonio is in the bull’s-eye of an “Alzheimer’s tsunami.” Already, more than 55,000 people are affected by the disease in South Texas.
“For each person affected, there are about three others who are involved as caregivers,” said nursing professor Carole White, Ph.D., RN.
Over the past three years, Dr. White and her team have focused on providing education and support for family caregivers through the Caring for the Caregiver program in the School of Nursing.
The program, which is affiliated with the university’s Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, brings together individuals, government agencies and community organizations to provide training, support and resources for caregivers and their
The health care team and city of San Antonio officials are working to make San Antonio a Dementia-Friendly City, a designation that means the city fosters the ability of people living with dementia to remain in the community and thrive. The designation is given by Dementia Friendly America, a national network working to help cities across the U.S. support people living with dementia and their caregivers.
“Becoming a Dementia-Friendly City is not only the right thing to do, but it will also make us a more compassionate city,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Our challenge is to become the next Dementia-Friendly City in Texas.”
As dementia progresses, people living with dementia often feel isolated and misunderstood, Dr. White said. So do their caregivers.
The Caring for the Caregiver program organizes and supports Memory Cafés, places where people living with dementia and their family caregivers can learn and socialize together. The program also coordinates a community choir, Grace Notes, for people living with dementia and their families. Dr. White and her team are meeting with organizations around the city to develop action plans to incorporate similar dementia-friendly practices citywide.
“We all have a part to play in creating dementia-friendly communities,” she said.