In 1985 a lady named Lauretta Wilson-Sims started a small care home in Columbus,Ohio caring for aged individuals who could not take care of themselves.

 

Some had dementia and others just illnesses that would not warrant self care. Lauretta move to several locations in small home settings to give the care she was so great at giving. As time went on her daughter Kim became an asset to helping her care for the aged.

Lauretta never became a large corporation however from her humble beginnings emerged the concept of helping the African American community in ways that would soon explode into a much needed service to those navigating the system of healthcare and other related services through the African American Alzheimer’s and Wellness Association.

 

Her daughter Kim went on to establish in 1997 The Center For Family and Health Intervention through a local church on the east side of Columbus. The center provided free healthcare to predominantly the African American community writing a grant she received seed money from the Columbus Foundation of $45,000 to start and operate the business. The center serviced over 1,200 people with free eye exams and glasses,medical care and limited free surgical procedures for cataract removal with collaborations from The Bloomberg Eye Care Center. Networking with African American physicians in Columbus who dedicated their services free of charge to help the community, making this service possible.

 

Some of the other key players in this organization was OSU School of Optometry by donating all of the eye care equipment and necessary accessories and supplies for operation through connections with Dr.Jacqueline Davis and African American Optometrist.

The African American Alzheimer’s and Wellness Association has been operating since August 2004. Our mission is to provide support, education and linkage to services for the community. The African American is at a greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease due to hypertension and diabetes. Both of these diseases are prevalent in the African American community. When families are faced with a loved one that have been diagnosed with this “long journey” disease we culturally want to supply all that is needed at home. Unfortunately many families do not have the support, correct understanding of the disease nor linkage to services that can help ease the pain of such a devastating diagnosis. That is why we are here to help. We offer the Bridge Program which helps families link to services that will prove to be a success in outlining a care plan for those in need.

We also provide the MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination) to screen individuals for possible cognition concerns. Part of this service is to also ensure that proper paperwork is in place such as POA’s and healthcare POA’s. These services are within the Bridge Program.

We have served over 800 families and reached more than 5,000 with education and linkage to services. One of the many goals of our organization is prevention of disease. Therefore we reach many church congregations in providing seminars on healthy proper nutrition. Through extensive studies have compiled valuable information for living a healthier and happier life. One of our most popular presentations “Poisons in Your Pantry” have changed the lives of many in the direction of better health!

The Kustaafu Senior Arts Program is a specialized service that provides structured art for seniors in the community mostly those with first stage dementia. Kustaafu provides healthy brain stimulation for seniors that are experiencing dementia while at the same time providing quiet respite time for the caregiver. The most recent studies show that the arts is very instrumental in aiding those with dementia to experience a better quality of life. There is a minimal charge as many of the clients cannot afford adult daycare services. While this program is not an adult daycare it does provide the aforementioned respite opportunity for caregivers. The program can be from painting techniques to creative writing including music therapy and drumming lessons. This program is currently on hold due to funding challenges.

One of our newest programs is our monthly “Soupport Group”. This is and has been a benefit to many families that aren’t for sure what to do as a caregiver. This group allows for discussion time as well as education time making many of those in attendance feel better knowing that there is someone else in this battle with them. This group gets it’s creative name as a result of offering a tasty soup with delicious bread and crackers at each session. We network with selected assisted living/nursing homes to provide these “soupport groups” within their communities.

Sustainability

The African American Alzheimer’s and Wellness Association have networked with the Ohio State University utilizing their Social Work students to defray cost. We have also conducted annual walks, banquets and educational forums providing CEU’s as fundraisers for sustainability. Currently we have memberships and our annual fundraisers that aids in making these services available to the African American community. Much of what we do is performed without remunerations.

Achievements/Awards

• Grateful Recipient of the Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer's Disease

Caregiving Legacy 2011 Award” (The Bridge Program)

• Recognized by the United States Senator George Voinovich Office for the Support of Alzheimer’s patients and their families.