Lynn Ivey has lived the role of caregiver, having watched her mother succumb to Alzheimer’s disease in 2006 and now seeing her father diagnosed with dementia. So she knows how difficult it can be to ask for, and accept, help when caring for a sick loved one.
It’s one of the reasons she started The Ivey adult day-care center in SouthPark eight years ago. And it’s one of the reasons The Ivey is now working to add 12 overnight stay rooms to help care for people with memory loss diseases and to give caregivers a break she knows they need.
“It’s very difficult” to accept help in caring for a loved one, Ivey, the center’s founder, said. “Particularly in spousal situations, because in the marriage vows you vow to take care of each other in sickness and in health. And in the beginning, there’s still the hope that things will get better and you can do it for a while… until things don’t get better. The reality is, starting sooner helps both the caregiver and the loved one. Hopefully The Ivey can help people make those decisions
The Ivey campus, located at 6030 Park South Drive, will eventually include the current memory wellness day center and two homes with six private rooms in each. Charlotte City Council recently voted to rezone land beside The Ivey, which had been proposed for a number of different projects – most recently a hotel – but
never developed, and Ivey’s group purchased the land with the help of a donation from a center supporter. Fundraising is now taking place for the expansion.
The homes will include private bathrooms for each room, a living room, library, large kitchen and outdoor spaces, Ivey said, and people staying overnight at the short-term care facility will have access to the same health monitoring, therapy and “social connectedness” that members of the day center
One of the newest tools members of the center have access to is Genesis Rehab Services staff, which work with people on physical, occupational and speech therapy and also do programming for caregivers who visit the center. Ivey decided to bring Genesis Rehab Services to her facility after seeing how well they worked with her father, who is being served by a nursing center in Wilmington.
“Everything I built with The Ivey was informed by the personal experience with my mom,” Ivey said. “The experience with my dad is informing the next phase” of The Ivey’s growth.
Ivey’s experience keeps the needs of caregivers at the forefront of many of the center’s activities and efforts. Caregiving for a loved one diagnosed with a memory loss disease can be taxing on a person’s health and wellness, Ivey said, as “the constant challenges of caregiving can burn out a person giving the care.” The goal of the short-term overnight rooms is to allow caregivers a chance to take a night off, or a vacation, or just have some time to recover mentally and “keep the family intact (while The Ivey does) the caregiving,” Ivey said.
That need is growing in the Charlotte community, and across the country, Ivey said, as the baby boomer population ages. And aging is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, Ivey said. The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, though Ivey recently read a study suggesting it may be as high as the third leading cause of death, as Alzheimer’s is an underlying cause for many
“We have seen an increased need in the amount of people served,” Ivey said. “Inquiries and attendance have dramatically increased. More and more people are recognizing the problems associated with it and are seeking help. And our members throughout the years have always asked … if we could provide” overnight services.
The planned overnight facility does not have a name yet, and naming rights will be part of the possible sponsorship and donation opportunities associated with fundraising for construction. People can visit The Ivey to learn more about the pending expansion and ways they can help, Ivey said, and updates will be posted at the center’s website, www.theivey.com.