A Continuum of Care for Brain Health

A Continuum of Care for Brain Health

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Brain health is one of the most important aspects of healthy aging. A variety of factors can contribute to keeping the brain strong and active including diet, exercise and taking the time to engage in mentally stimulating activities like puzzles, word games, or learning a new skill.

Unfortunately, even after “doing everything right” people may face living with a memory disorder. According to the Florida Department of Elder Affair’s 2018 County Profile, 6,945 seniors in Martin County are probable Alzheimer’s cases—this number represents 15% of Martin County’s senior population.

“Memory loss affects a larger swath of our population than many people realize,” said Karen Ripper, President and CEO of the Council on Aging of Martin County. “Since opening the Kane Center in 2011, the Council has implemented a strategy to create a continuum of care and support for individuals in every point of the process, from mild cognitive impairment through late stages of dementia.”

Most prominent of the memory care programs at the Kane Center is its adult day program, “The Club.” At The Club, seniors who are living with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or who simply are isolated and need assistance with activities of daily living, can spend the day in a safe, engaging environment. The program blends cognitive therapies, exercise and social activities, all under the care of onsite nursing and support staff. Importantly, Club members are able to continue living at home with loved ones and stay connected to a supportive community.

“Isolation is a common, and debilitating, side effect of memory loss,” Ripper continued. “Remaining physically and socially active is imperative to maintaining your quality of life as you age, particularly if you are also living with a memory disorder.”

Memory loss typically doesn’t happen overnight. A person may experience early memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), for many years before more acute memory loss begins. The key is to recognize the issue early, and be proactive. In 2016, the Council launched its Memory Enhancement Center to fill the need for programming designed for MCI. Using a research-based curriculum called the Integrative Memory Enhancement Program, participants perform a variety of exercises that boost their cognitive reserve. Emphasis is placed on being nonjudgmental and encouraging authentic dialogue, which helps participants feel connected to a support system of peers who are going through the same experience.

Also on site at the Kane Center is the Day Medical Center, the Council’s senior-focused primary care practice, and Brain Matters Research, a private Alzheimer’s disease research group. In the Day Medical Center, Dr. Mildred Sabo, a geriatrician, and a team of nurse practitioners coordinate closely with The Club and the Kane Center’s case managers, specialty physicians and community agencies to ensure their patients experiencing memory loss have access to the best possible medical and community-based care. In 2018, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Reza Khatib, the Day Medical Center launched a program in partnership with the University of Miami to offer specialized PET scans to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease free of charge. These scans are not covered by Medicare and can cost $4,000 or more out of pocket. To date, 90 scans have been performed.

Brain Matters Research, a Delray Beach based company that leases space at the Kane Center, is currently running seven active Alzheimer’s studies. The group also provides free memory screenings to anyone who suspects a change in their brain function.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease do not only affect the individual. Navigating life with a loved one with dementia comes with a multitude of unforeseen challenges. Twice a month, the Council’s licensed clinical social worker leads Caregiver Support Groups. In addition, she offers counseling services for both caregivers and dementia patients.

Throughout the year, the Kane Center hosts free caregiver education events, bringing in local and nationally renowned experts to provide insights and guidance. On March 4, the Kane Center will host its annual Caregiver Workshop, one of its most popular family caregiver events.

From diagnosis to treatment to research to community-based support and education, the Kane Center offers a helping hand through every facet and stage of memory loss.

“As we continue to live longer, the prevalence of dementia increases,” said Ripper. “At the Kane Center, we are committed to being a trusted resource for dementia care and are continually developing new programs and strategies to meet the needs of our community.”

The Kane Center is located at 900 SE Salerno Road in Stuart. For more information about available programs and services, call 772.223.7800 or visit kanecenter.org. The Council on Aging of Martin County is a private, nonprofit organization that has served Martin County’s seniors since 1974.

Many of the Council’s memory care programs are made possible by the generosity of donors and corporate partners. Those interested in investing in brain health and dementia care resources in Martin County can contact Michele Jacobs at 772.223.7803.

The Charles & Rae Kane Center, 900 SE Salerno Road, Stuart, FL 34997

Area Agency on Aging

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