Dementia and Alzheimer’s: Is Davis ready?

* Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of four articles discussing the need for an adult day program in Davis. The Davis Adult Day Program Task Force mission is to develop and launch day program services for those living with memory loss and other disabilities. Family caregivers rely on programs such as adult day care in order to continue working, or just to obtain needed respite from taxing caregiving responsibilities. Resources and more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia can be found at a 24/7 helpline, 1-800-272-3900 or

By Sheila Allen

Chances are your life in some way has already been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, or the broader term, dementia. The impact on the individual, family and friends extends to the community, as service and support needs increase once the disease unfolds and takes its toll.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one in 10 adults age 65 and older have dementia. In Davis, this estimate yields approximately 650 people living in our community and suffering from it, being cared for primarily by unpaid family members.

As the disease progresses, people with dementia are no longer safe to be alone, requiring 24-hour supervision. Often, this means that the caregiver must quit his or her job and/or leave social activities, decreasing productivity and increasing stress and isolation. From a community perspective, this decreases the availability of workers in their prime working years.

The Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance has sponsored two summits over the past five years to address issues related to aging. Four main areas of gaps in service were identified: lack of affordable, accessible housing; insufficient transportation options; difficulty finding and being connected to existing services; and insufficient education, programs and services related to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Housing vacancy rates continue at historic lows in Davis. As a person ages, there is often a desire to down-size and live in a single-story home or apartment. There are few opportunities in Davis to find an affordable, smaller living space that meets an older adult’s needs.

In addition, in order to provide family supports, many Davis families are looking to move their aging parents who may have dementia closer to them, but again, the very tight market does not allow many options.

When to no longer drive is a hard decision for a person with dementia and his or her family. With it comes a loss of independence, but safety of self and others on the road is paramount.

Davis is very fortunate to have access to Davis Community Transit for local and Yolobus Special for county paratransit transportation services. Unfortunately, as dementia progresses it becomes more difficult for a person to navigate public transportation systems like this and be able to be safe and comfortable for rides.

The greatest number of calls that Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance receives and the highest number of summit participants’ questions are related to connecting to services, including services for those with dementia. The Collaboration Committee of YHAA has 86 different providers of services for people in Yolo County (see