In its last phase of funding through a 3-year grant from America’s Administration on Aging, the program’s currently gratis services could terminate within several months. According to Jackson/Josephine Counties’ local Program Coordinator, Carol Terry, STAR-C functions to lessen caregivers’ depression. It also seeks to reduce problem behaviors in persons experiencing dementia.
Administered by the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, the grant covers residents of Jackson, and Josephine Counties. Applicants for STAR-C services must be providing care for someone who lives with them, and who suffers from Alzheimer’s related dementia. Caregivers must also desire to keep the loved one at home rather than a care facility. RVCOG staff screens requests; sends out paperwork, and as applicable, assigns clients to consultants. In seeking to help caregivers reduce patient’s problem behaviors, a Star-C consultant makes eight weekly home visits, and four follow-up phone calls.
One Rogue Valley resident who availed himself of the service, voluntarily shared his experiences regarding the help he and his spouse received. To guard their confidentiality rights, The Independent opted to use initials when referring to him. “I don’t know what I’d do without STAR-C,” caregiver, K.S. said. “I was clueless before; flying on instinct—by the seat of my pants.” He heaped lavish praises upon their consultant, Lucinda Hardy. He described the program as well-thought out, and organized, yet flexible. “Lucinda made sure everything was covered, for instance how to deal with or prevent patients’ catastrophic reactions.”
Computer-literate, K. S. now performs extensive research about the diseases that bring on dementia, and puzzling changes in personality. “I’m a sponge for learning,” he quipped. Thanks to Lucinda’s help, I’m better equipped to handle these ups and downs my wife goes through.”
He referred to his spouse as a once highly active person, easily capable of multitasking. Now, for her own safety’s sake, he doesn’t leave her alone at home. “We have a kitchen ‘to die for,’ but she might hurt herself on the stove burners.”
K.S. lamented that budget cuts closed down the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association a few years ago, and that the nearest one to here is in Portland. He also referred to the national toll-free number in Chicago, staffed 24/7, as “a phenomenal resource.” That’s 1-800-272-3900 or www.alz.org, he stated.
“Of the top ten fatal diseases,” he noted, “Alzheimer’s ranks # 6. It’s not preventable, not treatable, not curable. As the baby boomers age, this could result in a pandemic that’ll bring this country to its knees.”
Sobering arguments to encourage fund-raising for intensive research. K.S.’s wife, age 71, has gradually shown increased signs of the mind-robbing disease for three and one-half years. Her husband copes, remains upbeat, steadfast and devoted, and highly recommends STAR-C (phone # 541-471-2863) to others in his situation.
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent