Seventy-four year-old Gladys has been coming to SteppingStone’s Mission Creek Adult Day Health center for over 7 years. As the eldest of four siblings (3 sisters and a brother) she left her native Hong Kong at the young age of 16 to come to America, first landing in Hawaii for five years and then settling in San Francisco. In her new homeland, she met and married Johnny who had emigrated from mainland China. They worked hard to build a life together and Gladys went to work for a food processing plant and cannery rising through the ranks to become the manager.
At the relatively young age of 50, Gladys suffered a stroke that left her with physical impairment, limited mobility and significant speech impairment. Johnny and his sister take care of Gladys at home. She also has two dogs, Yoyo and Coco, who are clearly her cherished children.
Everyday at Mission Creek, Gladys brings her cheerful disposition to brighten up the day for her fellow participants. She works very hard with the rehab staff and receives the physical therapy and strength training needed to improve her mobility and balance. Exercise in the gym is one of the most important things to Gladys. The stroke left her without the ability to formulate complete sentences but she works with a speech therapist and is quite able to express herself. She loves to bring presents of fresh fruit for her tablemates and the staff. Although she is very sensitive, she loves a good joke and her laugh is music to our ears.
Johnny and his sister do not have the capacity to care for Gladys during the day. If not for the health services she receives at SteppingStone each day, they would have to put Gladys in a skilled nursing facility. She often expresses gratitude that she can come to Mission Creek and not have to go to a nursing home. Last year, a bureaucratic snafu created an eligibility issue for her—the thought of not being able to come to Mission Creek filled her family with great anxiety. We avoided months of anxiety and worry by working behind the scenes with the family while we dealt with the bureaucracies to keep her eligible for Adult Day Health/CBAS. She often says that SteppingStone is part of her family. Needless to say, we all feel the same way about Gladys!
From the Executive Director
As I look back on the past eight years at SteppingStone I am struck by the amount of change the Adult Day Health Care program has undergone and the resilience and ingenuity we’ve had to amass to stay afloat in a turbulent era. All the while, we have provided quality service to frail seniors and disabled adults in spite of the threat of elimination, the cut-backs, and the changes in program requirements. We have emerged stronger and more committed to imagining the next step in our growth in order to build a sustainable future. With this, we are poised to pilot a Double Shift at our Mission Creek site this fall so that we can serve more people who need our care. And we are also using this as an opportunity to upgrade our food service program, to renovate our gym with state-of-the art therapy equipment, and to innovate a more efficient transportation system. Our activities are now recalibrated for person-centered care so that each person’s unique interests, needs and talents can be incorporated into our activities.
It feels like a natural juncture to pass SteppingStone on to new leadership to take it to its next level of development. And so on August 1st, I left as Executive Director and have passed the baton to Mollie Tobias. I am confident that Mollie, having worked as SteppingStone’s Program Director at our Mabini site for the past five years, will bring the deep knowledge, commitment and leadership for the exciting growth ahead.
It’s been an honor these past eight years to steward and advocate for SteppingStone to carry out its mission. What I’ll miss most is the dedicated staff at our four centers who have inspired me every day with their kindness and care to the elders we serve and to each other. I know they will continue to work hard to serve the City’s frail seniors and disabled adults.
Greetings from the Board President
Six years ago, I joined the Board of Directors for SteppingStone. At the time, Moli Steinert, Executive Director, told me it was possible that my tenure on the Board would only be for six months as SteppingStone was on the verge of being acquired to keep us financially viable.
As it turns out, we never were acquired, but keeping financially viable has been the theme for us throughout those six years, and the amazing thing is that we have done it, through fighting state funding cuts, fundraising and creativity. It would never have been possible without the incredible people of SteppingStone, from the inspired leadership of Moli Steinert, through the Program Directors, Activity Directors, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Social Workers, Nurses and Staff. Throughout challenging times, they have maintained the quality of our program, continuing to serve our participants with commitment and dedication.
As I step down as Board President, I am reflecting on the honor it has been to work with these people as well as with my colleagues on the Board. It is an exciting time at SteppingStone with Maelin Wang taking over as Board President, and the talented Mollie Tobias, recently Program Director at our Mabini Center, moving into the Executive Director position. I look forward to being part of this transition as a Board member for the next six months, knowing that Maelin and Mollie together will bring new energy to the organization as we move into a new phase of our development. I know that the organization will thrive and flourish under their leadership and will continue to grow in service to our community.
Board President, Nancy Meyer is a Realtor and Seniors Real Estate Specialist. She specializes in serving the needs of seniors with all the events surrounding the sale of their homes, as well as speaking and putting on seminars on topics of importance to seniors.
Is It Dementia?
What to Look for and When to Call Your Doctor
Over the past year, Kathy, an 80 year old widow who lived alone, had begun to worry; she was having trouble remembering to pay her bills and had been calling her bank more and more frequently as she couldn’t seem to keep an accurate balance in her checking account. Her children were also becoming concerned as they had noticed that their mom’s once tidy home was becoming increasingly cluttered and that she seemed unusually irritable and anxious when they visited.WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
“Dementia” is not the name of a specific disease; rather, it is an umbrella term used to describe a range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or thinking skills. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is a TYPE of dementia; it is also the most common type of dementia found and accounts for approximately 70% of identified cases. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells in various regions of the brain.WHO IS AT RISK AND CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
One of the greatest risk factors for dementia is age. In other words, the older you are, the greater your risk for getting dementia. There is also a genetic component which may increase one’s risk for dementia. Although there is no cure for dementia, research now suggests that activities that protect your heart also protect your brain. Thus, regular physical activity and a healthy diet may lower your risk of getting some types of dementia. According to a report published in the April, 2013 issue of Neurology, a Mediterranean diet (which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts while staying away from meats and dairy) may help protect the brain and reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SIGNS OF DEMENTIA?
- Difficulty in managing a budget and paying bills.
- Frequently losing items and being unable to find them.
- Withdrawal from friends, family and social activities.
- Decreased or poor judgment when making decisions.
- Difficulty tracking appointments, dates and times.
- Difficulty following conversations and finding the right word(s) when speaking.
- Changes in mood such as increased anxiety, confusion, and irritation.
Kathy alerted her doctor to the memory problems she was experiencing and further testing indicated she likely had early Alzheimer’s disease. Although she and her family were understandably devastated by this news, receiving a clear diagnosis allowed her to move forward and plan for her future while she still had time. If you are experiencing the above symptoms, it is imperative you alert a health care professional. They can do an initial evaluation and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist for further testing. Although there is no cure for dementia, medications are available that may help slow the progression of the disease. Most importantly, early diagnosis allows you to plan ahead so that you can maintain the greatest level of independence for as long as possible!
Mary Hulme, LCSW, ASW-G, C-SWHC is a geriatric consultant and dementia specialist who grew up in the West Portal neighborhood. Please visit her website at Moonstone-Geriatric.com for further information. Questions or comments? firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 415-971-6125.