An inaugural Arts & Hors D’oeuvres fundraiser treated sponsors, caregivers, and community supporters with a unique opportunity to learn more about the devastation of Alzheimer’s.
“Of course, the fundraising is important, but this Open House (Oct. 30) was an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about how Alzheimer’s and dementia devastates,” said Dr. Judy Martin, executive director of Alzheimer’s & Dementia Services of Memphis, Inc.
The Open House and Silent Auction on Oct. 30, welcomed volunteers, friends and loved ones of Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers to fellowship with the organization’s staff and sponsors as local artists displayed their works for sale to support the day services facilities providing daily activities to seniors suffering with dementia-related issues.
“Of course, the fellowship was great as well,” said Martin. “But there is such strength found in families just sharing and listening to each other’s stories. …. We are already looking to host similar events in the future.”
Dorothy’s Place, the organization’s facility in Hickory Hill, provides adult daycare services and supervision for seniors experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Activities, snacks, and meals are provided while caregivers take a day off or go to work.
“I’m actually a nurse, an RN, and I have been for 45 years,” said Martin. “Research shows that when those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia socialize with friends, engage in games, and group activities, deterioration in the brain actually slows down significantly. Those findings are actually very important.”
Alzheimer’s & Dementia Services of Memphis President Katrina Thompson said she got involved as a volunteer watching a friend care for her husband.
“The disease can be emotionally painful to friends and loved ones as it progresses in the patient,” said Thompson. “Although I have not personally had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, I have seen friends and other people take that journey. We were elated to see community supporters, elected officials, and sponsors come out and support Sunday’s event.”
Thompson said attendees made generous bids for paintings offered in the silent auction, and Memphis artists were allowed to show off some of their creations.
Martin said she developed an interest as well as knowledge in the organization because both her mother and aunt suffered from dementia-related illnesses.
“My mother was 5 years older than her sister,” said Martin. “My aunt was out in California, but we moved her here in my mother’s house because my mom wanted to care for her sister. Of course, I went over several times a day to check on them both.”
Martin said her mother was able to remain in her home until age 97, and her aunt had to go into a skilled nursing facility sometime before her mother went.
“They ended up in different facilities,” said Martin. “Mother didn’t begin to see a real decline until age 97, and she suffered from infections as well. But God is so good. My aunt lived to be 95, and my mother was 100. They passed within three weeks of each other.”
Martin said Alzheimer’s and dementia feel like “a long journey.” The illnesses last a long time for caregivers and other loved ones, she said.
“I have taken that journey first-hand, myself,” said Martin. “The work we do is important, uplifting and supporting caregivers as well as providing a place of fellowship for our memory-loss sufferers.”
The organization opened a second location, Kennedy Park Center, 4585 Raleigh LaGrange Road, in the Frayser-Raleigh community. Dorothy’s Place is located at 3185 Hickory Hill Road.