Organization makes a difference in the lives of people affected by dementia
“With you every step of the way.” That is the mantra that graces the logo of the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF), an organization founded by five Long Island women in 1988 with one goal in mind: to provide supportive community-based services to Alzheimer’s families in Long Island.
As executive director of LIAF, Tori Cohen is involved in both developing its programs (she is a licensed social worker with more 20 years of experience), as well as overseeing its day-to-day operations.
As LIAF celebrates three decades of service, Cohen, whose grandmother suffered with dementia, spoke about the importance of keeping the discussion about Alzheimer’s going and how the LIAF is working to make the journey manageable for both patients and caregivers.
Tell me about your role with the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF).
I have been with the organization since 2003 and since then, have been largely responsible for its growth. I have also spearheaded its recent relocation from Port Washington to its modern, more centrally located center in Westbury. I have used my personal experiences to help shape LIAF into the program it is today.
What are some ways LIAF is improving the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia?
By supporting legislation that allows this population easier access to more services and providing families with direction, guidance and counseling to help them get the highest quality services available to them. Also, being proactive in planning the details for the diagnosed individual’s future, in an effort to ensure that it’s what the diagnosed individual wanted (financial matters, living situation, etc). Our caregiver training provides caregivers with ideas to improve communication and solutions to resolve conflicts with the diagnosed individual, all the while preserving the individual’s independence and dignity. It’s important to keep them active, social and engaged during all of our programs
Does the organization do anything special for caregivers?
LIAF understands how emotionally draining and exhausting it can be caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia. Along with a variety of programs dealing with all stages of Alzheimer’s disease that offer caregiver respite—day programs, weekend drop-off programs, in-home respite programs—as well as several other services. Our caregiver support groups, which are facilitated by licensed social workers, provide guidance and emotional support, helping caregivers develop coping skills, maintain a positive mental attitude and ensure that they remember to take care of their own health needs as well. LIAF’S transportation services include wheelchair-accessible vehicles that provide door-to-door service to and from its center in Westbury for families in select areas of Nassau County. Dementia trained drivers and LIAF’s staff help ensure our participant’s safety and comfortability.
What programs are available through LIAF?
LIAF offers a variety of programs specifically geared for those with early-stage, moderate-stage and late-stage Alzheimer’s that foster the individual’s independence, dignity and well-being. These include day programs, which are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., providing caregivers with six hours of time to attend to their other responsibilities while their loved ones are mentally stimulated in an engaging program that accommodates their abilities; a weekend drop-off program, which is on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a variety of fun activities including arts and crafts, exercise, brain games, music therapy and more; and in-home respite, which provides two hours of in-home respite every other week for Alzheimer’s families in Nassau County by trained respite workers provide cognitive activities for a caregiver’s loved one.
What has been accomplished within the organization since its inception?
LIAF has grown with our hands-on programming from inception. LIAF has been able to individualize our programming and services to help our participants foster their independence and dignity throughout their journey. Some new services we have to offer are “Music and Memory” and “Early Stage Chorus.” These programs are instrumental in helping the loved ones and the diagnosed individual stay connected. Moving to Westbury in 2017 has made a positive difference in the lives of people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia—one person, one family, one community at a time.
How can someone get involved to help LIAF?
LIAF also welcomes volunteers to spend time with our participants allowing us to provide that extra one-on-one care. Our “Forget You Not” volunteer program focuses on intergenerational interaction between young teens and the population living with this disease. Their mission is to bridge the generational gap and create new memories for all. Attending, sponsoring and donating to our events is another way to help LIAF continue our mission. Visit our website and learn the many ways that you can help and stay tuned for how we will be celebrating our milestone anniversary.
Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation is located at 1025 Old Country Rd., Suite 115 in Westbury, NY 11590. For more information, call 516-767-6856 or visit www.liaf.org.
Making Memories Cocktails and Casino Night
Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 6 to 9 :30 p.m.
The Mansion at Oyster Bay, 1 S. Woods Rd., Woodbury, NY 11797
Ticket, sponsorship and donation information is available at www.liaf.org.
A number of one-hour caregiver training sessions (early afternoons) are available at various locations throughout Nassau from mid-September through March 2019. Visit www.liaf.org for details.
Making Memories at the Movies
Hosted by LIAF, 1025 Old Country Rd., Suite 115, Westbury, NY 11590
Saturday, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m.
Designed for people living with memory loss and their care partners. Individuals of all ages enjoy clips of classic films and television programs followed by guided conversation and reminiscence.
Brain Fitness Workshop
Thursday, Oct. 4 from 2 to 2:45 p.m.
Merrick Public Library
2279 Merrick Ave., Merrick, NY 11566
Designed for individuals of any age who want to maintain and enhance their cognitive abilities.