Six therapy dogs and cats were recently purchased by Alzheimer’s Family Center (AFC) for their patients. Manufactured by Hasbro, these "pets" are in reality robots that were specifically designed for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. And it does wonders.
At Alzheimer’s Family Center, we strive to not only make our patients feel comfortable but also to make life easier for their caregivers. Caregiving is a very exhausting job, and it can take a both a physical and mental toll on someone. By offering basic grooming services, we try to help check chores off caregivers’ to-do lists. Hair-styling and podiatry are very important for both the patients’ hygiene and self-esteem.
“They’re breaking down doors to come and see her,” patient Ron M. jokingly remarks about Nicole Rubino, the volunteer hairstylist that has been spending her time at AFC. After living on the East Coast her whole life, Rubino decided to make the big move to Southern California. Rubino has always loved volunteering and giving back to the community, and after discovering AFC online, the facility just clicked for her.
Volunteers reach out to caregiver families to ask for verbal consent for loved one to receive a haircut. Every third Wednesday of the month, Rubino sets up shop in the New Connections room, scissors in one hand and a curling iron in the other. For the past two sessions, Rubino’s 90 minutes have filled up. Her list started with six patients and went up to 10. She has provided a variety of styles from basic trims to “George Clooney-style” comb-overs. The caregivers are especially grateful for her time, with some even jokingly asking her to come every week.
When asked about what she loves about volunteering at AFC so far, she happily said, “I love the people. Everyone is so interesting, and I love hearing the patients’ stories.”
Another important service we offer is routine foot care. Dr. Gennady Kolodenker, DPM is a local podiatrist who comes by to help with nail clipping and other basic services. While Dr. Kolodenker’s visits are less frequent than Rubino’s, he is very popular. His calm and patient nature relax the patients as they lay back and let him do his work. “Creating instant relief for the patients is very rewarding, “ he says, “having the patient walk away smiling is the reason I do this.”