Dominion spreads awareness of Alzheimer's

·3 min read

Jun. 23—On the summer solstice, the staff of Dominion Senior Living wore purple in recognition of The Longest Day — the Alzheimer's Association's worldwide day of fundraising to fight memory loss.

June 21 serves a symbolic purpose for the celebration as the summer solstice is the longest and brightest day of the year.

Residents lined up to get their picture taken as part of the festivities. Many held pictures of themselves from the past.

"It's their younger selves in honor of coming out the darkness and into the light on the longest summer solstice day. This is all about Alzheimer's awareness," Dominion Senior Living Executive Director Donna Agee said.

One of those residents was Peggy Thomas, who has lived at Dominion for a little more than a year. She and her husband were married for 67 years and had 10 children together. Thomas said she has enjoyed her time at Dominion.

"They're having a thing for Alzheimer's and letting everybody share it, you know? Taking pictures of us," Thomas said. "It's wonderful. Everything's great."

Those participating residents who did not have younger photos of themselves, instead held up sheets of paper with statistics about Alzheimer's disease, courtesy of the Alzheimer's Association.

According to the association, one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Of that number, almost two-thirds of those suffering with Alzheimer's are women. Regarding caretakers, over 11 million Americans take care of a friend or family member suffering with the illness.

The first floor at Dominion is for residents in the assisted living program. While the second floor is devoted to those in need of memory care. It is a 30-bed facility with the same amenities of those residents who live on the first floor. There are check ups every two hours along with a dining room and a deck. Agee noted residents are always assisted.

"When you go down at breakfast they're all out of their beds and eating at the table. And for some, that's a whole new thing. They've lived in seclusion. So it's pretty cool to see them together," Agee said. "We'll have dances and activities. They'll cook... we'll make brownies that they can just mix and drop things in. I call it 'life engagement' and 'life enrichment' just from talking to each other. I have families here right now that have come in to show their support because they support one another. So it's almost like a support group."

Mandy Dargavell, wellness director at the facility, is in the process of becoming a member of the Alzheimer's Association and plans on starting a support group at Dominion.

"We're going through training right now to become a leader of a support group. It won't just be for our memory care residents, it will be for our community. So if someone has a family member who has dementia or alzheimer's they will be able to come in here and have somebody support them," Dargavell said.

A group of Occupational Therapy Students from Eastern Kentucky University came out to support the people who make Dominion home. The students hosted a luau with games and activities for residents of the memory care unit.

Agee had a piece of advice for families struggling against Alzheimer's and other forms of memory loss.

"It's okay. It's okay to not give your life to care for someone if there is someone else available to do that. Promoting independence; sometimes we think if we keep them close to us at home, it will be better. Sometimes it is," Agee said. "It's okay. You have permission to reach out and ask for help."