A new administrator at Thelmas Place in Canby wants to increase awareness of the resources and programs that can help with dementia sufferers and the people, often family, who care for them

by: JOHN BAKER - A respite class at Thelmas's Place participates in a program run by Patsy Dean and Lindsay Brady.Scott Douglas has only been the executive director of Thelma’s Place for a short time, but he sees the need in Canby very clearly.

Thelma’s Place remains a safe zone in the city for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementia — and the people who care for them. Douglas knows there are more out there who need help than those who’ve come forward so far.

“We’ve got a very underserved community,” Douglas said. “Not enough people know Thelma’s Place and what kind of resource we want to be.”by: JOHN BAKER - Day respite program directors Patsy Dean, right, and Lindsay Brady, left, enjoy some quality time with Dan, who is suffering from the early signs of Alzheimer's. He stops by Thelma's Place several times a week to participate in the respite program and to volunteer.

As Douglas talked about his goals for the facility, a respite care group was in progress downstairs.

Fifty-four year old Dan, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, not only participates in the activities, but serves as a volunteer for the facility as well.

An applications programmer who lost his job soon after being diagnosed, Dan is honest about his situation.

“This place is awesome,” he said. “I have beginning stages Alzheimer’s and the people here treat me so well. When I was diagnosed, I lost a lot of confidence, but when I’m here, I feel good about myself as a person. It has absolutely been a Godsend to me and my wife.”

Dan’s wife, Jenni, is his caregiver. By providing a program for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, Douglas hopes to provide valuable breaks for each. For the patients, it provides a time of activities and stimulation. For the caregivers, a time of rest and rejuvenation for a job that is hard at best.

“You know, 70 percent of caregivers will find their health deteriorate faster than the person they are caring for,” Douglas said. “Right now we are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we’d like to add Monday and Friday to the schedule.”

Douglas hopes to not only add days, but to make sure the programs are affordable for any and all who need it. Right now, it’s $50 a day, but Douglas hopes to create investment in the program to allow for scholarships for those who need help.

Douglas pointed to staffers like Lindsay Bradey and Patsy Dean as the kind of up-tempo and enthusiastic programmers that keep the program rolling.

“You know, based on numbers, we estimate there are 100 to 150 people in Canby with Alzheimer’s or other dementia at any given time,” Douglas said. “We know there are not nearly enough people to help the caregivers. Our focus is on respite care for the caregivers.

“Nobody is trained to be a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient,” he added. “We want to help caregivers, often other family members, make sure they have rest and time to do other things that they need.”

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