Support for Patient and Caregivers: New Program for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care

By Stephanie O’Neill, KPCC

There is a 45% increased risk of death in people who are lonely compared to not lonely, according to a UCSF study.

(Photo: Getty Images)

It’s late morning as Linda Kerr of Canyon Country helps her 85-year-old mother navigate the indoor hallway of her Hollywood apartment.

“Be careful, Ma,” she gently cautions as her mother takes tentative steps forward. “C’mon, get closer to the walker — you’re walking too far away.”

The going is slow and precarious as Martha Kerr, who is recovering from a cracked vertebra in her neck, inches along the corridor guiding the walker for her mom. Her caregiver, Virginia, walks behind her with the wheelchair that will be used to transport Martha after the journey to the elevator is complete.

“The most important resource that a person with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia has is their caregiver — much more important than their doctors.”
This particular morning is a good one for the elder Ms. Kerr. She’s in good spirits, and she recognizes her daughter. On other days she’s more irritable, and she sometimes confuses Linda for her own mother. A series of strokes have left her with dementia. Today, the trek to the elevator lasts about five minutes and is the first leg in the Kerrs’ commute to the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.

They’re heading to the hospital to get help and become among the first to enroll in UCLA’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program. Funded by philanthropic dollars and a federal innovations grant, the program is designed to help patients and family caregivers deal with dementia. Continue reading