Support for families facing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

“With my mother, we went from everything being normal to being scared very quickly. Just a year and three months after her diagnosis, she was a danger to herself, and we had to move her into a facility. In retrospect, the signs were there much earlier than we realized. So many things we look back on - what she was doing, what she quit doing- if we had more education or more exposure to the disease, we may have done things differently,” explained Shelley Tims.

In August 2012, at age 65, Shelley’s mother, Kathy Tims, was diagnosed with frontal dementia and possible early onset Alzheimer’s. Warning signs appeared as early as 2005, but were misattributed to personality quirks and stubbornness.

“Until we can solve [the disease],” said Shelley, “we want to help make the transition easier.” Shelley and her father, Lamar, have pledged an ongoing commitment to the Center for BrainHealth for what they have deemed the Initiative for Early Discovery, starting with a $50,000 donation to help families who will find themselves in a similar situation. The initiative takes a three-pronged approach to improve quality of life after diagnosis and raise awareness about the signs of dementia.

“People deal with this in a lot of different ways. Shelley and I wanted to find the opportunity,” said Lamar Tims. “There are things that you can see and pick up on, and we want people to know what they are and what choices you can make to make it easier for you and your loved one.”

The unique program engages the patient, the caregiver and healthcare graduate students in building a framework for moving forward. For individuals newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, the Discovery Group puts focus on preserved abilities, emphasizing remaining strengths and creating a supportive atmosphere where individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia can find camaraderie, learn about the disease, medications, and beneficial lifestyle factors. Families receive and are connected to useful resources, practical information and build lasting relationships with others in the same situation. Student clinicians learn and practice techniques to stimulate the brain and extend its performance through the early stages of dementia.

“We are so grateful for the Tims family and their desire to help others navigate this challenging life adjustment,” said Audette Rackley, Head of Special Programs at the Center. “The diagnosis can feel terrifying, but the Tims Family Initiative is helping people get on a right path.”

To learn more about the Discovery Group, contact Audette Rackley, M.S., CCC-SLP at 972.883.3405 or click here to email.

BrainHealth® is a registered service mark of The University of Texas at Dallas