EKU Occupational Therapy Dept. Offers "The Place to Be" for Adults with Memory Loss

For local adults who are experiencing memory loss related to dementia or Alzheimer’s, the Department of Occupational Therapy at Eastern Kentucky University has provided “The Place to Be” for the past two decades.

The department will again sponsor the free eight-week program on Thursdays and/or Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., beginning Feb. 14-15. Applications are still being accepted (call 859-893-0653) for the free service, which is offered in the Dizney Building on EKU’s campus.

Occupational therapy students, under the supervision of a faculty member certified in dementia care, provide one-on-one interaction with each participant. Tailored individual and group activities include crafts, music and free movement, cooking and exercise/physical activity. Lunch is provided.

“The focus is on cognitive vitality,” said Katherine Nicholas, MS, OTR/L, the OT faculty member who coordinates the program. “We provide engaging activities for individuals with memory loss, whether Alzheimer’s disease, neurological conditions, depression or unspecified.”

One-on-one individualized care provided by master’s level occupational therapy students, supervised by Nicholas, a Qualified Dementia Care Specialist through the Alzheimer’s Foundation. Cognitive vitality programming will include crafts, social groups, exercise, cooking, music and other stimulating activities.

“This program is unique in that it offers the volunteer-participant experiencing memory loss, and accompanying depression, to fulfill the valued role of ‘teacher,’” Nicholas said. “Each volunteer-participant receives a certificate thanking them for their support of higher education. Many former participants have told me that they didn’t think they would ever get the opportunity to go to college!”

Participants must be able to walk and engage in simple activities. Transportation to and from the site is not provided. Referrals from physicians and social workers are accepted, but not required. Some clients are already under Hospice care.

“This is an opportunity for caregivers to restore energy, run errands, or have a lunch with a friend for eight weeks, knowing that your family member is safe and enjoying himself or herself as well,” Nicholas said.

“Even if the client has not officially been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s and the family needs a respite, he or she will be considered for the program,” Nicholas noted.

EKU’s graduate program in occupational therapy has been ranked among “America’s Best” by U.S. News & World Report.

Published on February 06, 2013