LA JOLLA LIGHT - september 19, 2013 - Page A15
to know that there are people who care about them, people who are patient with them as the disease progresses. That kind of environment is going to help them have a higher quality of life.” Insisting a friendship with an Alzheimer patient is both beneficial and attainable, Leach said that the key comes from trial-and-error. She said after doing some research, each friend tried something with Sunny that she thought Sunny would like. One mistake occurred when a friend took Sunny to the movies. The film’s plot and theater’s darkness confused Sunny to the point of discomfort. “Look at those activities and think about how they can be simplified, how they can be shortened, and how that person can still do the kinds of things they would do in the past,” Ball advised. Leach said each woman in the group is different and that provides the necessary variety to keep Sunny engaged. “Some of us are very finicky, we cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, and some of us are free flowing,” she said. “We provide her with a variety of situations and experiences.” After they spend time with Sunny, each member of the group contacts the others by e-mail to explain how the visit went. This also contributes to their success, Leach said. An added, but unexpected benefit, is the joy Sunny’s supporters said they get out of their time with her. Instead of feeling helpless, they feel proactive. “It reduces our sorrow, disempowerment and anguish,” Leach said. “We don’t feel our sorrow as deeply.” Ball added that the Alzheimer’s Association has resources and information for those who want to help a friend or family member with the disease, including a “Memory Café” at the 6632 Convoy Court facility. For literature, home activities and related services, there is a 24/7 Alzheimer’s Association hotline: 1-800-272-3900.
Alzheimer’s play to raise funds for research
star cast will take the stage at Shiley Theatre on the campus of the University of San Diego, 6:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27 for an ensemble reading of Act 1 of “Surviving Grace,” an original play by comedy writer Trish Vradenburg (“Designing Women,” “Family Ties,” “Kate and Allie”), and co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, a national advocacy organization committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020. Based on Vradenburg’s experience as a caregiver to her mother who died of Alzheimer’s in 1992, “Surviving Grace” sheds light on the emotional ups and downs that 15.4 million Alzheimer’s caregivers in the United States go through each day. The cast includes local philanthropist Darlene Shiley, Helen Reddy, Diane Rehm, Marilu Henner, Susan Taylor, Robert Foxworth and Jim Laslavic. Proceeds from tickets sales will benefit Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research
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Center at UC San Diego and WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s. The production is presented by USAgainstAlzheimer’s, which is mobilizing individual, political, business and civic leaders to achieve the goal of ending Alzheimer’s by 2020, and B.A.B.E.S “Beating Alzheimer’s By Embracing Science,” an organization dedicated to harnessing the power of women to beat Alzheimer’s
by raising funds to support the most promising Alzheimer’s research. The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the reading and dinner with the cast at 8:30 p.m. Alzheimer’s affects one in three seniors and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The number of Americans with the disease is projected to triple by 2050 — from 5.4
million to nearly 16 million. “Through my past experiences as a caregiver for my mother, uncle and aunt with Alzheimer’s, I’ve seen firsthand that Alzheimer’s is a disease that will stop at nothing to take things — moments, memories and loved ones — away,” said Darlene Shiley. “However, Alzheimer’s advocates remain driven by the knowledge that with the proper resources we can stop this disease and spare future generations from it.” To purchase tickets (from $150) for “Surviving Grace” or to learn about sponsorship options, visit: survivinggrace.org/show/ sandiego
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