By Tricia White
An estimated 170,000 people in Tarrant County are living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. They and their families are facing a difficult journey like the family of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who The Carter Center announced in May is living with dementia at her home in Georgia.
The James L. West Center for Dementia Care in Fort Worth offers a continuum of programming that meets families where they are and guides them through their dementia journeys.
“With the Carter family’s announcement that former First Lady Rosalynn Carter is living with dementia, we recognize that there are many families in North Texas who are walking the same journey, and it’s one we understand well,” said Cheryl Harding, PhD, president and CEO for the James L. West Center for Dementia Care.
“We have tremendous empathy for the Carter family and all families who are walking alongside a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia,” Dr. Harding said.
Nationally, one in 10 older Americans has dementia. According to Texas Health and Human Services, Texas ranks 4th in the nation in the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases and second in the number of Alzheimer’s disease deaths.
It estimates that 1.09 million Texans serve as unpaid caregivers for someone with dementia.
As Fort Worth’s first and most comprehensive center for dementia care, The James L. West Center for Dementia Care is an innovator in the field, offering education and support for professional and home caregivers, adult day services for those living with dementia, dementia-enhanced short-term rehab services, and residential care for those whose dementia has advanced and requires full-time support.
“We see education and support for the caregiver as the first step in supporting families caring for a loved one with dementia. Through the use of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers programs, James L. West partners with caregivers throughout their journey,” Dr. Harding said. “Caregiving is hard work, and these resources are designed to promote caregivers’ health, strength and resilience.”
Both Jaime Cobb Tinsley, vice president of dementia and caregiver education, and Hollie Glover, director of caregiver and family support services, were trained by the Rosalynn Carter Institute and are master RCI trainers. Glover and Tinsley lead the James L. West Center’s education programs and use the RCI curriculum in their daily work. Emily Rodriguez, coordinator of bilingual education for James L. West, recently adopted the RCI Bilingual Caregiver Curriculum in her dual language caregiver class.
Glover was among the first in the nation to train with the RCI REACH program as part of the center’s 4-city pilot program in 2013 and was asked to speak at the annual RCI meeting in Americus, Georgia. Her update moved Mrs. Carter so much that she was invited to her seat to visit with her. In 2018, Tinsley and Glover were invited to train with the RCI on a new program, “Dealing with Dementia.” To date, more than 145 families have participated in the training program.
“We believe there is a lot of time and a lot of life between diagnosis and end of life. We help families live well along the way.”
Cheryl Harding, PhD, president and CEO, James L. West Center for Dementia Care, Fort Worth, TX