The Insight Memory Care Center in Fairfax has come a long way in the past three decades. Thirty years ago this month, the day program for Alzheimer’s patients was launched in the basement of a local church. What started as a support group for families of Alzheimer’s patients has evolved into a full-fledged day program for 40 patients per day.
Insight, a non-profit organization that also provides free Alzheimer’s support groups and education classes, will be celebrating its landmark birthday at its Merrifield location on July 24.
"We were started in 1984 in the basement of a church out of an Alzheimer's support group," Robin McGlothin, director of donor development, said. "It was family members of Alzheimer's patients that that thought it would be really great to have respite during the day."
Since Day One in that church basement, IMCC has added much to its offering. Not only is it a day health care program, but there are also programs for those in early stages of the disease as well as community education and support classes.
Executive Director Joel Bednoski said in his two years at Insight, he has seen some of these changes.
“I have been with IMCC for over two years,” Bednoski said. “We have added to our programming. This includes a Music and Memory program, a multi-sensory environment and a new early stage program called Reconnections. We have also increased the number of education and support services we provide.”
The more things change for Insight, the more things stay the same. Although the staff is planning for a move to a larger location next year, the goals and heart of the organization remain the same.
“The core values and basis of the organization are still true today,” McGlothin said. "We are still serving the families that need the support that they are not getting. We are enhancing lives. Even though it is an awful disease, people are just trying to find the best quality of life that they can.
“We are open from 7:30 in the morning until 5 at night, with therapeutic activity throughout the day, two meals and snacks,” McGlothin said. “There is a recreational therapist on staff who provides all of our programming. We do cognitive stimulation, redirecting different behaviors.”
Bednoski said IMCC is unique among the 17 adult day health centers in the D.C. metropolitan area.
“IMCC is the only center in the area to provide a minimum of 1-to-4 ratio of staff to participants, improving on the state licensure requirement of 1 to 6,” Bednoski said. “IMCC’s adult day health center provides a safe, engaging, and therapeutic environment for individuals with memory impairment. Without meaningful activity, individuals with dementia become bored, restless, and often exhibit behavior challenges that lead to impossible caregiving situations. Our adult day health care center allows individuals with memory impairment to remain in the earlier stages of the disease for a longer period of time through mentally stimulating activity, physical exercise, and socialization.”
Nights and weekends are also busy at center.
“We provide education classes and support groups for the families as well as community training,” McGlothin said. “We provide boot camp on Saturday for our caregivers. We also provide free consultations to our families or any individual that calls and wants information about newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients with referrals.
“As one of our family members shared, ‘the fact that this center has been taking such wonderful care of my mother, I am able to take care of my own needs at work, et cetera,’” Bednoski said. “IMCC provides care to support the whole family affected by memory impairment.”
Both McGlothin said Bednoski said IMCC would not be where it is today without the support of its community.
McGlothin said the 30th anniversary party is not only to celebrate Insight but also for its community whose support has been vital to its growth and success.
“We really want to celebrate and thank all of the families and the community that has supported us,” McGlothin said. “This is a free event at our center. We are going to provide a barbecue meal and we will also be able to provide a tour through the organization.”
Bednoski said he foresees IMCC playing an increasing role in the Alzheimer’s Northern Virginia community in the next 30 years.
“With the rate of Alzheimer’s disease expected to increase by 22 percent in Northern Virginia by 2025, the demand for our programs and services is dramatically increasing,” Bednoski said.
Regardless of the growth that IMCC will experience in the upcoming years, Bednoski said it will always stay true to its founding principles that have guided its founders and staff over the first 30 years.
“IMCC remains dedicated to our founding principles: enhancing the lives of individuals and families living with memory impairment, providing holistic and collaborative care for our participants and families, anniversary party is not only to celebrate Insight but also for its community and caring for individuals who are not being served by existing community services,” Bednoski said. “IMCC’s programs allow individuals and families affected by memory impairments to achieve the highest quality of life, in all stages of the disease. As each disease progresses in its own unique way, IMCC staff is trained in all forms of dementia care.”