Mother’s Alzheimer’s fight inspired banking exec to change careers
CHARLOTTE – Lynn Ivey celebrated in January the 10th anniversary of The Ivey Memory Wellness Day Center, a nonprofit inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ivey was a banking executive when she learned of her mother’s diagnosis. Her mother had attended a daytime care center, but Ivey wanted to create a place with superior care.
Her nonprofit has helped more than 450 families over the years. Older adults receive programming that repowers their minds, while caregivers can take time for themselves or continue working without worrying about their loved ones.
“The mission becomes stronger the more families we serve,” Ivey said. “The ups and downs of starting a business, whether it’s a for-profit or nonprofit could get people down, but the mission of what we do here and the families who are affected really inspire us every day.”
When Ivey reflects on the many iterations of her nonprofit over time, she finds irony that its work over the past two to three years bear an uncanny resemblance to what she wrote in her business plan in 2006.
She initially sought to work with people with mild cognitive impairment or early stage Alzheimer’s, as well as provide activities directed at higher functioning people.
Ivey says research shows steps taken 20 to 35 years prior to the initial onset of symptoms makes a difference. She recommends people focus on nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, cognitive stimulation, socialization and good sleep.
“The longer that someone is focused on that in some of our programs, the longer they can stay at a higher level of functioning and don’t seem to decline as rapidly,” Ivey said.
Ivey’s team crafts programming around certain goals, including physical, cognitive and psychosocial. She is especially proud of the cultural arts therapy available to seniors.
Older adults can engage in musical therapy and music appreciation. Such activities boost an older adult’s mood and reduce stress.
The center has a partnership with the Queens University of Charlotte in which music therapy students apply what they learn in their curriculum.
The Ivey also has a partnership with the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, in which artists visit and interact with older adults. Virtual museum tours and art classes are also offered.
Art and music not only promote lifelong learning, but also allow for increased socialization skills, Ivey said.
Other programs include meditation, golf, yoga, book clubs, computer software and knowledgable speakers.
The Ivey is launching a program next month that will allow families to see their loved one’s experiences through photos and video uploads. They can also get detailed reports about how they spend their time.
The Ivey has an interdisciplinary care team that meets with families at least twice a year to talk about personal care and where their loved ones are in the disease process. Ivey said families tend to want to know if their loved ones are having fun or being stimulated.
“There’s a lot of movement, cognitive function and cultural arts in a very therapeutic manner,” she said. “That’s really what I envisioned 12 years ago when I wrote the original business plan.”
Want to go?
The Ivey Memory Wellness Day Center is at 6030 Park South Drive, Charlotte. Call 704-909-2070 or visit www.theivey.com for details.