The first time Cindy Den Brave ever stepped through the doors of the Alzheimer’s Aid Society office in Modesto, she was a daughter feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with the dementia that was slowly claiming her mother. She left the office feeling renewed and armed with information and support that would get her through the arduous days ahead.
“I was wrapped in the arms of the caregivers present that day,” Den Brave recalled. “They gave me the encouragement, support and education I needed to turn that frustration into a journey of joy I was able to take with my mother.”
The experience was so uplifting for Den Brave that she began volunteering for the group and now serves on the Society’s Board of Directors.
The Alzheimer’s Aid Society of Northern California strives to offer support for patients and caregivers, as well as promoting education and awareness about the disease. The Society’s Modesto chapter was opened eight years ago. It regularly hosts support groups for patients and caregivers, art and music therapy and peer counseling. The Society also offers brief respite stays for caregivers and valuable guides detailing the progression of the disease and tips for overcoming its many obstacles. Over the years the Society has started additional support groups in the area, including two in Turlock.
“For the caregiver, Alzheimer’s is like watching their loved one slowly disappear,” Den Brave said. “They are losing a little bit of them each day. The caregivers come into the group totally lost and it’s here that they find others who are going through the same thing or have been there already.”
Dementia is the loss of intellectual and social abilities and is often used as an umbrella term to describe a myriad of conditions affecting the mind. Alzheimer’s is an actual diagnosis of a disease in which a neurological disorder attacks the brain and results in memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and personality changes.
“Alzheimer’s is different from other terminal illnesses,” Den Brave said. “It robs people of their individuality — their very being.”
The local chapter of the Society relies heavily on donations to meet the approximate $50,000 needed yearly to keep the center in operation. The group’s largest fund raiser is their annual Harvest Moon Dinner and Auction set for Saturday.
For tickets or more information about the Society call 238-0538 or visit the office at 700 McHenry Ave. Suite B in Modesto.