Memory Makers works to help dementia patients and their families

Allison Fazio
The Oxford Eagle

A local, non-profit community resource is growing in the city of Oxford.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops this disease. Memory Makers is working to help those diagnosed live an easier life.

The center is a respite day service for people suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia diseases. Founded in 2010 by Dianne and Bill Arnold, the program was created to offer respite, socialization, counseling, education and information to those in the community affected by memory loss.

“Here, people make friends and do all kinds of things,” said Emily Fox, assistant program manager of Memory Makers. “They do activities that stretch the brain, challenge the body and keep them healthier.”

The activities members take part in include dancing, singing, crossword puzzles, arts and crafts, board games and other activities that help stretch the mind.

Not only does Memory Makers help people with memory loss diseases, this program also helps caretakers of these patients. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 40 percent of caregivers suffer from depression. By providing these services, caretakers have time to run errands and take a break from their constant duties.

The program also provides information for community members who want to learn more about memory loss diseases and how they affect their loved ones.

Located at 311 Heritage Drive, this resource is easily accessible for students or others in the community looking to work community service hours.

Cara Clock, a senior social work major at the University of Mississippi, spent her summer volunteering at Memory Makers.

“I originally started volunteering at Memory Makers for one of my classes,” Clock said. “But after my first day there, I immediately wanted to come back. The people are a lot of fun to hang out with.”

Kaitlin Smith, a UM junior biochemistry major, has also spent volunteered there.

“My favorite part of volunteering at Memory Makers is getting to talk with the people and hearing their life stories,” Smith said. “They really appreciate getting to meet new people and see new faces.”

Memory Makers also takes contributions for daily items that are used at their facility. These items mainly include cleaning supplies, but can include games or crafts for participants.

Before a person can become part of the Memory Makers program, they must meet basic guidelines. Potential participants must complete a series of tests, both mental and physical, to determine if they are medically appropriate for the program. Caregivers must also be interviewed before they are selected to participate.

Although this program is non-profit, a small fee of $20 per day is accessed to participants, which goes towards food, supplies, and counselors on duty throughout the day.

In the hopes of creating a comfortable atmosphere, Memory Makers only allows up to 12 participants per day in their facility. This low number makes it easier for counselors to interact individually with each participant.

A typical day at Memory Makers would start at 10 a.m. with snacks, conversation, reminiscing and a devotional. At 11 a.m., participants enjoy music and exercise. There is a lunch break at noon, and participants resume arts and crafts, dancing, singing, board games, and other mind-stretching games at 1 p.m. The facility closes at 2 p.m.

Memory Makers is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and is closed on all major holidays.


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