Monday, August 16, 2010

Specialized center helps seniors with memory loss (part 2)

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What Aspen hopes to provide through its approach to daytime senior care, called “unique and innovative” by officials at the Utah Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, is a solution for all her needs.

“We call Aspen a ‘transitional activity center’ where folks with early symptoms [of memory problems] can get help with cognitive activity, nutrition, exercise and social engagement,” said Nick Zullo, the Utah Chapter’s program director.

He and colleague Sylvia Brunisholz, a family services counselor, agree that Aspen’s transitional approach is in great need along the Wasatch Front.

“To our knowledge, there are only three such [daytime, transitional] centers in the Salt Lake Valley, two in the Utah County area and one in Davis County,” Brunisholz said. They act as a bridge between traditional centers where seniors go on their own to participate in various activities and centers that provide more hands-on help for moderate-to-serious memory-impaired adults.

Aspen’s owner and executive director, Gary Staples, a former software-marketing executive who has operated a home-care service — Aspen Senior Care — for the past six years, said he saw the need for a place where disabled seniors can get the daytime help they need to stay active and forestall extreme memory loss.

“Our services also are geared toward those with Parkinson’s disease, those who are wheelchair-bound and those who may be lonely and depressed,” Staples said. Socialization, he said, is key to the quality of life for such folks.

The center is licensed to care for 30 women and 15 men between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The ratio of staff-to-client is 1 to 6.

“As we grow, we will add staff as necessary to maintain that ratio,” he said. His first-year goal is to serve an average of 20 clients per weekday.

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