SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif., June 1 Holding food drives for the homeless. Knitting blankets and hats for needy newborns. While these volunteer activities aren't uncommon, the people involved in them are. Each has Alzheimer's disease or another form of memory impairment. While those with Alzheimer's are traditionally viewed as helpless, the group is shattering that stereotype and showing they have talent and energy to share. They're also deriving intense satisfaction that's having a powerful impact on their own wellbeing.
The volunteers all reside at Silverado Senior Living - Newport Mesa, a memory-care community in Costa Mesa, Calif. Their endeavors began a year and a half ago in response to President Barack Obama's call for volunteerism during his inauguration, says Jackie Jonovic, Silverado - Newport Mesa's director of resident engagement.
"We sat and talked about it after the president finished speaking," Jonovic says. "We discussed what the president was asking for, why it mattered, and whether our residents wanted to become involved. They decided that they did," and so the Silverado Service Club was formed.
The club is guided by a group of residents who meet every other week to review the volunteer work in progress and make plans. Almost all of the 69 other people residing at the community get involved in the various projects. After collecting and making items to donate, the residents go in small groups to present the contributions to the benefiting organizations, which have included a foodbank and the newborn unit of a hospital.
Jonovic said: "As memory disorder progresses and people lose the ability to do things that were once part of their lives, they begin to feel useless and unconnected to the world. These feelings sap them emotionally, psychologically, and physically. The personal reward and self-esteem that come from assisting other people are transforming. You can see how the service club members light up and experience great joy in taking part and how this changes their own lives for the better."
Silverado in Costa Mesa is operated by San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based Silverado Senior Living, which offers assisted living care for those with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory impairment as well as home care, care management, and hospice care through its Silverado At Home and Silverado Hospice service lines. Silverado has 34 locations across California, Texas, Utah, and Arizona.
Silverado has research affiliations with leaders in the field of Alzheimer's disease, including University of California, San Diego; University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Southern California; Baylor College of Medicine; University of North Texas; and the University of Utah. Silverado's web site is: www.Silveradosenior.com.
SOURCE Silverado Senior Living