It’s Time to THRIVE!

Lauren Duerksen
Program Director, AGE Thrive Social & Wellness Center

     Universally, the COVID pandemic changed a lot in our worlds. Most of us were isolated from family and friends; we avoided hugs and handshakes and social gatherings; some of us started (and continue) to work from home, juggling the work that pays the bills with the work of caring for others, all while our dogs were barking at delivery trucks, our cats were making their appearance during virtual meetings, and/or we were teaching our children at home.

     Before the pandemic, social isolation was already problematic for older adults.  The CDC links loneliness and social isolation to serious health conditions such as premature death, depression, and anxiety, among other health risks. As we emerge from the pandemic days of being stuck at home, we look for the opportunities that reconnect us to each other and to the communities we so deeply missed the last couple of years. Adult day health centers are an excellent place for older adults to receive supervision or services while socializing with peers and easing the loneliness, boredom, or isolation they may be experiencing.  Additionally, caregivers of older adults need time to take care of themselves so they can continue to fulfill the needs of another person.

     Whether you work from home and need time to focus, you need a break so you can get your errands done, or you just want a day or two to yourself, AGE of Central Texas Thrive Social & Wellness Centers provide daytime care for older adults with physical needs or memory loss. Our Thrive Center members engage in an active, social day while receiving the care and support they need in a vibrant community setting.

     Our Thrive Centers in Austin and Round Rock are the longest-operating licensed, non-residential day activity and health service centers in Central Texas. Our program provides daytime care and social wellness support for older adults with physical or cognitive needs. This includes:

  • Expert Care: we are staffed with a full-time nurse to assist with medication management and health monitoring.
  • All-Inclusive: we provide nutritious meals, transportation options (depending on location and availability), and engaging activities such as music, brain boosters, and exercise.
  • As a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting people all along the spectrum of growing older, we never want finances to be a barrier to excellent care. Our low private rate of $70/day is an affordable option, though we do provide a sliding scale application for those who qualify. We also accept Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, and long-term care insurance.
  • Our rigorous infectious control policies and procedures have mitigated the spread of COVID in our centers while we continue to provide these crucial services.

     Both locations are open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  We encourage participants to attend the Thrive Centers at least twice a week and stick to their regular routine to develop consistency and reap the most benefit for the participant. Your loved one will enjoy nutritious meals, lots of fun, and still get to go home at the end of day, ready to come back for more!

     When care partners come to the initial assessment, we discuss goals for their participant’s time in the Thrive Center, such as socializing outside of the home, enjoying enriching activities that are planned by a skilled Activity Director, or simply spending a fun day in a safe place. Often times, after their first visit, caregivers report to us
that their Thrive Center member was happier, more engaged, or had their best day they’ve had in years when they go home at the end of the day.     

     While COVID changed a lot about our worlds, we know now more than ever it’s important to stay involved and connected in communities where we belong. Our Thrive Social & Wellness Centers are a place of accepting community who meet everyone where they are. We welcome you to give it a try and find a place to belong!

Interested in learning more?
Call or email us today!

Central Austin Location:
3710 Cedar Street, Austin, TX 78705
(512) 458-6305
Email: CentralAustinThrive@AGEofCentralTX.org

Williamson County Location:
475 Round Rock West Drive #120, Round Rock, TX 78681
(512) 255-4865
Email: WilcoThrive@AGEofCentralTX.org

Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate

This is a great article from the New York Times coverage on Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on American life. What we love about this article is how it explains the emotional needs of Alzhiemer’s patients and their caregivers, and the connection to improving care and quality of life for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Read the article and let us know what you think or what you’ve experienced.-SP

By PAM BELLUCK, NYT

PHOENIX — Margaret Nance was, to put it mildly, a difficult case. Agitated, combative, often reluctant to eat, she would hit staff members and fellow residents at nursing homes, several of which kicked her out. But when Beatitudes nursing home agreed to an urgent plea to accept her, all that changed.

Disregarding typical nursing-home rules, Beatitudes allowed Ms. Nance, 96 and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, to sleep, be bathed and dine whenever she wanted, even at 2 a.m. She could eat anything, too, no matter how unhealthy, including unlimited chocolate.

And she was given a baby doll, a move that seemed so jarring that a supervisor initially objected until she saw how calm Ms. Nance became when she rocked, caressed and fed her “baby,” often agreeing to eat herself after the doll “ate” several spoonfuls.

Dementia patients at Beatitudes are allowed practically anything that brings comfort, even an alcoholic “nip at night,” said Tena Alonzo, director of research. “Whatever your vice is, we’re your folks,” she said.

Once, Ms. Alonzo said: “The state tried to cite us for having chocolate on the nursing chart. They were like, ‘It’s not a medication.’ Yes, it is. It’s better than Xanax.”

It is an unusual posture for a nursing home, but Beatitudes is actually following some of the latest science. Research suggests that creating positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer’s patients diminishes distress and behavior problems.

In fact, science is weighing in on many aspects of taking care of dementia patients, applying evidence-based research to what used to be considered subjective and ad hoc.

With virtually no effective medical treatment for Alzheimer’s yet, most dementia therapy is the caregiving performed by families and nursing homes. Some 11 million people care for Alzheimer’s-afflicted relatives at home. In nursing homes, two-thirds of residents have some dementia.

Caregiving is considered so crucial that several federal and state agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, are adopting research-tested programs to support and train caregivers. This month, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a forum about Alzheimer’s caregiving.

“There’s actually better evidence and more significant results in caregiver interventions than there is in anything to treat this disease so far,” said Lisa P. Gwyther, education director for the Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Duke University.

Click here to go to the New York Times website for the full article.

Teleconference: Friendships is Essential for Caregivers

From the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America newsletter

Caregivers are often advised to maintain their own health by eating right and exercising, but they often overlook the importance of socializing to improving quality of life for themselves and their loved ones. Maintaining friendships is essential to having a balanced life as a caregiver of an individual with dementia, according to Lynn Lazarus Serper, Ed.D.,founder and president of Brain Enhancement Services, Inc., Boston.

“Stay healthy! Plan time with your friends!” Serper said. “Friends are not only a pleasure, but also research shows that spending time with friends can actually increase overall health and mental well-being. Take advantage of this wonderful resource.”
On January 14, Serper will expand on this topic, “Friends, Caregiving and Health,” when she is the guest expert on Care Connection, a free telephone support service co-sponsored by AFA and Dr. Jamie, a psychologist and professional life coach. Care Connection is held every Thursday at 9 pm (Eastern time) and up to 150 family and professional caregivers can call in-and simply listen or contribute to the conversation-from anywhere in the nation. Dial toll-free 1-877-AFA-2992, Enter guest ID: 271004#. Taped sessions are available at www.askdrjamie.net.