MemoryCare satellite clinic opening in Haywood County
While a dementia diagnosis is devastating for the afflicted, it can be equally upsetting to the patient’s family.
For the loved ones of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the issues they will have to face are many, including providing long-term care, medical decisions, legal issues, financial concerns and dealing with memory loss and behavioral changes. These challenges can prove overwhelming, and it is sometimes difficult for caregivers to find the information and support they need to provide proper care for their loved one.
That’s where the nonprofit organization MemoryCare has stepped in to help. Since 2000, the charitable Asheville-based organization has offered medical services for older adults (over age 65) with cognitive impairment and additional support services for their families. The program serves 19 counties in Western North Carolina, but earlier this month a new satellite clinic opened in Haywood County with the express purpose of serving the seven western counties in the state.
“What makes this different from family doctors or even neurologists … is that we involve the families so much,” explained Dr. Lisa Verges, a geriatric psychiatrist who will be leading the care team at the Haywood clinic. “We empower and equip families to know how to respond.”
“This disease isn’t just a disease of the patient, it’s a disease of the family,” added Misty Roland, BSW, a social work care manager with MemoryCare.
She said a greater percentage of patients served by MemoryCare are being referred to the program from the seven western counties, making the opening of a satellite clinic in Haywood County a needed and practical next step.
“That is what this clinic is dedicated to. It’s really focused on Haywood and west,” Roland said.
The new clinic, located in the Haywood County Senior Resource Center building at 81 Elmwood Way in Waynesville, is open two days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. The clinic also contains a resource library that is open daily.
There will be a grand opening celebration from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 20. The public is invited, but everyone attending is asked to RSVP by calling 356-2800.
MemoryCare works in concert with primary health care providers with doctors referring patients to the program. According to the MemoryCare mission statement, the organization’s goal is to “enhance community services by helping older adults and their families have the best possible quality of life in the face of a progressive memory disorder.”
Patients participating in the program are given an extensive initial evaluation consisting of a clinical portion including history taking, cognitive testing and a physical examination. The family and caregiver portion of the evaluation involves education, problem solving, and information on resources. Other services MemoryCare provides include helping caregivers to develop long-term care plans, giving recommendations to address financial, legal and safety issues, providing caregiver training, counseling and support, helping with behavioral management, coordinating services provided by other agencies, prescribing for disease-specific medications and helping low-income families file for medication assistance, assisting with end-of life decisions and reporting to the patient’s physicians.
While most of the patient services are covered by insurance, there is a caregiver fee of $475 per year to cover the caregiver assistance part of the program. However, in cases of financial hardship, the fee is reduced or waived.
“No one is turned away for inability to pay,” Verges said, adding the organization is there to help what she sees as the underserved elderly population and their families. “We feel like we can provide help and support.”
Verges pursued geriatric psychiatry after her family experienced the challenges of having a loved one with dementia when her grandmother was diagnosed. She said she is particularly passionate about helping families as a whole because her own struggled to find help and support as they cared for her grandmother.
“They’re so grateful, and it’s humbling work,” she said of the families she works with. “It’s just amazing work. I love it.”
To schedule an appointment at the Haywood County Satellite Clinic, call the main MemoryCare office in Asheville at 771-2219.