The Alzheimer's Aid Society was founded in 1981. At that time, very little was known about the disease as it had not yet become the "household word" it is today. The Society began as a single support group for caregivers in a Sacramento living room. We existed at that time to provide support and education for the caregiver. Today we provide more than forty support group meetings throughout Northern California every month.
Our first Caregiver Conference was held in partnership with the Gerontology Program at American River College in the early 80's. In addition to our annual conference, we provided Mini Seminars in many of Northern California's outlying counties.
Beginning in the mid 1980's, the Alzheimer's Aid Society began providing training to professional caregivers, medical personnel, law enforcement, and first responders. This paved the way in our communities for better understanding and fair treatment of persons with dementia.
As the 1990's arrived, advancements in diagnostics and public awareness made it possible for patients to be diagnosed much earlier in the course of the disease. The Alzheimer's Aid Society expanded its mission to include patient support. Today our patient groups meet every week in Northern California. In 2011 we added Brain Exercise and Reminiscence groups, called "The Forget Me Not Club." Caregivers also belong to the "Forget Me Not Club" and they meet in an adjacent classroom. The facilitators of the patient groups are also available to meet one-on-one with patients to answer questions and assist with their issues and concerns.
Much has changed today as far as our understanding of the disease. There are now medications, which can be helpful in improving or delaying the symptoms. There are programs and classes for the patient and the caregiver.
What has not changed is the devastating challenge patients and caregivers face with Alzheimer's disease. It is a journey of level paths, perilous twists and turns, and ever-changing climates. We continue our focus of education and support to assist those on this journey to navigate the unfamiliar terrain and, hopefully, to find some meaning and joy along the way.