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New Program Makes Life Easier for Alzheimers Patients, Families

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It looks like any social club for seniors, but the people attending one program are all suffering from early stage Alzheimers, or some other form of dementia.

Their bodies are still in good shape, but their minds and their memories are slowly fading.

That can pose a heavy burden for their family.

Susana Sanchez is the daughter of an Alzheimer's patient. She says, "We have to watch everything she does-- her medications, someone always has to watch her. You can't leave her alone."

Roberta Moore says of her loved one, "For her the frustration is more like she feels lost."

This day care program, run by the Institute on Aging and California Pacific Medical Center, tries to help break through the sense of isolation that many people with dementia experience.

The program offers music and dancing, cooking, games, and art work to stimulate the body and the brain.

Program director Cindy Kauffman says, "We can't stop Alzheimer's, we can't stop progression, but what we try to do is hopefully slow it down and keep it active and keep them having an enjoyable life during the progression of the disease."

Simply being social, hanging out with other people, is important because it reduces the likelyhood the seniors will become depressed.. a real risk for people with early dementia.

It also helps the families by giving them a break.

Roberta Moore says, "The difference between being able to take care of my mother or not, I couldn't do this without day care. I just couldn't."

Susanna Sanchez adds, "I think it's important for her to have a life away from us."

For a few hours a day, the seniors can relax and have fun, helping them enjoy life as much as possible for as long as possible.

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