Editorial l Growing older populations need more services, awareness | Editorials

“We are the best-kept secret” for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients referred to as “clients” at Key Training Center in Lecanto, said Jody Hansen-Walker, Key Elder Care program manager. This division of Key Training Center is the only adult day care center licensed by the Agency for Health Care Administration in Citrus County. She told the Chronicle that her facility is a center for seniors on steroids. “No one comes home if they need a hot meal, clean clothes or a shower,” she said.

Mrs. Hansen-Walker is a woman wearing many hats. She manages resources and volunteers, helps provide daily programs like music, games, and social interaction for clients, runs to the kitchen, and helps prepare large, healthy meals since lunch is usually the biggest meal. of the day for many seniors, provides guidance to clients’ caregivers, and is a one-woman marketing department for the facility.

COVID has had a negative impact on these marketing activities. “I had to tap dance around COVID,” Ms. Hansen-Walker said. She doesn’t have the funds for billboards, radio or television commercials. She organized a November 2020 fundraiser of motorcycles parading from the Harley-Davidson site at Homosassa to Inverness Airport. The American Legion of Beverly Hills helped and they felt it was a great success. However, COVID reared its ugly head and brought other fundraising rallies to a screeching halt. Her main marketing resource is the Facebook page she created. The Facebook account is full of photos of customers involved in the activities and is one of the only ways for families outside the county to see their loved ones in a warm and loving environment.

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So COVID continues, but what hasn’t stopped is the growing number of people with some form of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It is estimated that nearly 7,000 Citrus County residents have the disease, according to the Florida Health Charts. And more and more seniors are moving into the county. Ms Hansen-Walker said these new residents are unaware of the services available and the concerned citizen’s carer faces a dilemma in identifying licensed child care centers like Key Elder Care.

As a counselor, however, Ms Hansen-Walker has a couch in her office for carers. With the mental and physical impact on the spouse or significant other, she wonders “who takes care of the partner?”

That said, we urge the county government, fraternal organizations and others, including businesses, to put elder day care and specifically specialist day care at the forefront and provide not only money and resources, but other ways to help our citizens identify organizations – like Key Aged Care – that can provide the expertise needed to help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their families with these much-needed social interaction activities and mental and physical health skills.

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