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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

What our surveys find is that people just don’t know how to connect to these services. A local provider of information and assistance connecting to services can be found through Senior Link of Yolo County (530-662-1065) and its Senior Resource Directory (see:

Finally, for people and families living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias who need information, education and programs, they have requirements that are not currently available. The Alzheimer’s Association has information, tools and a 24-hour hotline (800-272-3900).

Most people turn to their primary care physician for answers, but doctors may not have the latest information on diagnosis and treatment. The Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance is working with the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Research Center to bring this much-needed training to Yolo County in the fall.

Especially in the early stages of dementia, when the affected person still may be living independently, he or she is particularly at risk for fraud and abuse. The Yolo County District Attorney’s Elder Protection Unit (530-666-8180) protects seniors from criminals who exploit their trust, steal their resources, neglect or physically abuse them. To report suspected cases of elder abuse, call Yolo County Adult Protective Services at 888-675-1115.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, wandering behaviors are present in six out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s. In Davis, this means approximately 370 people with dementia will wander. The Davis Police Department has a program for frequent wanderers called Care Track. A bracelet is placed on the individual and can be activated in the event that the person is missing (call 530-747-5400).

There is a need for time off from the 24-hour burden of caring for a person with dementia. Citizens who Care offers a small relief program on the second and fourth Saturdays each month, at the Davis Senior Center. Its Saturday Club provides caregivers a five-hour break, and gives the participants a healthy lunch and stimulating activities such as music, art and exercises.

Participants are matched one-on-one with a volunteer who visits with them and assures that their day is enjoyable and their needs are being met throughout the day. Registration is required for participation. This vital service operates only one day on the weekend.

Another valuable resource in our county is Dignity Health’s Yolo Adult Day Health Center, located in Woodland and serving Davis. Day programs provide one to five days a week of care in a safe and social environment that is specifically tailored for people who need supervision and assistance.

Unfortunately, the Woodland program has a 12-month waiting list, which makes timely support impossible. Thus far, there is no adult day program in Davis, a gap in service that has existed for years.

The Davis Adult Day Program Task Force is working now to address this urgent need and is looking for community input and support to make this happen. See sidebar on how you can participate.

— Sheila Allen, R.N., Ph.D., is executive director of the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance, whose mission is to enhance the well-being of older adults in Yolo County through education, collaboration and advocacy. YHAA is facilitating the planning of an adult day program in Davis.

Part 1: Living with dementia: Disease takes an enormous personal and societal toll:

Part 2: The diagnosis is Alzheimer’s; what now:

Find the original article here.

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