Alice’s Clubhouse: Making a Tough Job a Little Easier

Outside photo of Alice’s Clubhouse on Bowman Road in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

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Being a caregiver is tough. Being a caregiver for someone with memory loss can be really tough.

Alice’s Clubhouse, the first medical model memory care day center in the Lowcountry, was created five years ago to help those with memory loss and their caregivers to live calmer, better and more fulfilling lives.

“The Clubhouse is named after my mother, who has Alzheimer’s,” said David AvRutick, co-founder and president of Alice’s Clubhouse. “As she progressed after her diagnosis, it became harder and harder for my father to care for her. Not only was that not ideal for her, his own health and general well-being really suffered for it.”

Finding little in the way of available help between home care services and a 24/7 memory care facility, the idea of creating Alice’s Clubhouse took root as a way to provide a structured and stimulating environment for those with memory loss. At the same time, and just as importantly, it would give their caregivers the time they needed to pay attention to their own needs. Alice’s Clubhouse, “exists as much for the caregiver as it does for the person with the diagnosis.” In the AvRuticks’ case, Alice became happier and more stimulated with the daily socialization at the Clubhouse, and her husband’s stress was lessened, his daily life was calmer and his sense of humor returned: “He became lighter.”

Focusing on people who are mildly to moderately affected by dementia or other reasons for memory loss, the structured program addresses key socialization needs and provides important mental and physical stimulation. Overseen by nurses and a certified recreational therapist, every part of the day’s schedule is designed to vitalize at least one of these areas with activities such as art and pet therapy, live music, walking and other exercise, gardening, puzzles, word searches, games requiring hand-eye coordination and social interaction and conversation.

In addition to the on-site Alice’s Clubhouse nurses, who are able to administer medication and provide skilled basic care, other care professionals – including physical and occupational therapists, a podiatrist and a physician – also come to the Clubhouse. As a result, members can maintain a routine and there is less pressure on caregivers, who have more freedom to address other issues in their lives.

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“What we do helps them live,” said AvRutick. “We are able to improve the quality of life for both our members and their caregivers.”

“Everyone describes the Clubhouse as a very happy place to be,” said Executive Director Lisa Westerman, RN. “Our members look forward to coming each day and often refer to other Alice’s Clubhouse members as part of their family. Their lives are enhanced and they know it.”

Alice’s Clubhouse offers a free trial day to assess if a person is right for the Clubhouse and the Clubhouse is right for the person. Those interested in trying the program can call 843-284-8367 or visit alicesclubhouse.com to schedule.

Caring for someone with memory loss is hard, but we can help,” said AvRutick.

By Molly Sherman

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