This article originally appeared in the Desert Sun

Alzheimers Coachella Valley opened its doors in 2018 with a mission to provide low or no-cost support and services for residents living with cognitive impairments including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes and other types of dementia.

The organization works with those who have been diagnosed as well as their loved ones and caregivers offering a variety of educational programs. These include a monthly caregiver class which is taught by Edwina Dirk, a registered nurse who has over 50 years of experience. For example, “Meaningful Conversations with the Cognitively Impaired” is a two-part class teaching caregivers the basics on how to talk with their loved ones, employ coping mechanisms and relieve stress.

“We are hands-on,” the organization’s programs director, Priscilla Kubas said. “You are going to be working hand and hand with people and when you call the office during hours, someone is going to talk to you.”

Alzheimers Coachella Valley also provides social programs to help alleviate the isolation that both the diagnosed and their caregiver experience. Club Journey offers social settings for couples to interact with other couples. Activities include music, exercise, bingo, and games. There is also a sing-along group, Tunes for the Memory, where music therapist Amanda Neira engages participants in singing and playing instruments.

The organization also offers caregivers support groups both online and in person. These volunteer-run groups offer participants the opportunity to discuss their struggles and successes with peers. This allows caregivers to share advice and support each other.

The programming offered at Alzheimers Coachella Valley helps to address the frustration, anger, and anxiety that both the caregiver and the diagnosed have when they don’t know what to expect or how to talk to each other, according to Kubas.

“The rate of burnout for caregivers is high, especially if there is no outside help or family to lean on,” Kubas said. “It’s unbelievably hard and that’s where we step in and help.”

Recently Alzheimers Coachella Valley received Youth Grantmakers and Riverside County Nonprofit Assistance grants from the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The organization depends on community support to provide its programs and all funds received stay within the community.

Those who wish to support Alzheimers Coachella Valley may want to consider donating for Giving Tuesday on November 30. The organization has received a matching grant for $10,000 from the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation, giving gifts double their impact.

Alzheimers Coachella Valley also depends on volunteer support and always welcomes new volunteers. Community members can volunteer their time in the office, working one-on-one with members, or just socializing with members. Anyone who is interested can visit or call for more information.

Alzheimers Coachella Valley hopes that more of the community will learn about their work and encourages individuals and the families of individuals who have received a diagnosis to reach out. It can be hard to know where to start after a diagnosis and those who call are often relieved to discover they can begin by getting assistance locally, Kubas said.

This month, Alzheimers Coachella Valley welcomed the public to an open house at its newly renovated and expanded space in the Berger Foundation Building. Those who wish to visit, see the facility and find out more can stop by Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We are here to help these families live their best life right now, make the most of their situation and enjoy each other’s company,” Kubas said. “There really isn’t another org like us in the desert and it’s a lifeline for people.”

More information: https://cvalzheimers.org/ or 760-776-3100

Inland Empire Community Foundation is in its 80th year of working to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.