By Pamela Bieri
Last year at this time, Alzheimers Coachella Valley (ACV) volunteers and staff were full speed ahead serving some 300 people a week in its offices with all kinds of support groups, socialization and education programs. We were busy planning fundraising events, connecting with other community organizations, and looking towards 2020 with happy anticipation.
By mid-March, 2020, it came to a sudden standstill when the COVID pandemic forced us all to stay home.
But staying home is the antithesis of ACV’s mission. We’re in the business of relieving isolation, providing a safe place to be together with others who are caring for or dealing with dementia. And supporting families through their journey together.
So, we pivoted in our delivery to live stream programs, gaining skill and confidence along the way.
Most of our families and caregivers came along, too, in spite of the technical challenges. By June, we had not only transitioned all of our programs to Zoom, we discovered we could expand their reach – those who left the desert in summer could still tune in. And their length – by extending seasonal programs all year long.
It meant that we could continue caring for our must vulnerable families by providing virtual connections to one another almost every day of the week.
Currently, we offer two live stream support groups on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Our two-part Meaningful Conversations program that prepares family and friends for a meaningful visit, meets the first two Mondays of each month.
Our very popular Club Journey still gathers every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. via Zoom for gentle chair exercises, telling stories and jokes, sharing news, and playing a game together like Bingo, hangman, 20 questions. And once a month, we’ve been able to partner with the business community to sponsor boxed lunches which were delivered by National Charity League, Coachella Valley Chapter, girls and their moms.
Traveling the Journey Together, initially an eight-week program, brings experts to talk on a variety of pertinent topics. It’s expanded to alternating Fridays every month, featuring even more community experts on such topics as Alzheimer’s various stages, pharmaceuticals, in-home care, placement options, nutrition, fall prevention, easy meals, decluttering spaces, and more.
Our last Thursday of the month Dementia Caregiver Training offers professional caregivers state-approved Continuing Education Units for their licenses. Family caregivers also attend the courses featuring a different topic each month. In June, some 40 participants logged on, which was the same level as when we could meet in ACV’s classroom.
Even our monthly art classes with Kathy Schuler turned into an online art appreciation series she called “Looking Together.” We explored themes like Traditional and Innovative Modern art, Family, and Landscapes by renowned classical and modern artists.
All of ACV’s programs are free!
If you like what we’re doing, please become a Friend of ACV with a one-time donation of any amount or a recurring monthly donation by visiting www.cvalzheimers.org/donate. Or text GIVEACV to44321.
With “a little help from our Friends,” ACV can continue its important mission of providing support and programs to Coachella Valley families facing Alzheimer’s dementia. All funds raised here stay local.
Alzheimers Coachella Valley
42600 Cook Street, Suite 134, Palm Desert, CA 92211
760- 776-3100 www.cvalzheimers.org