It was raining outside, but warm and cheerful inside, when dignitaries gathered March 4 to cut the ribbon celebrating Insight Memory Care Center’s new home.
A nonprofit providing a variety of services and support to people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their families, it moved in January from a 5,000-square-foot facility in Merrifield to a 15,000-square-foot building at 3953 Pender Drive, Suite 100, in Fairfax.
“We are so excited to finally be here,” said Insight’s Executive Director Joel Bednoski. “This is a momentous moment in our history. We’ve increased our size, so our activity room is four-and-a-half times the size of the old one. We have more space for education and support classes and can now expand our early-stage programming. It was a long road to get here, but we did it.”
He said they now have dedicated space for art therapy, physical therapy, the multi-sensory room and the music-and-memory area. And for the first time in Insight’s 30-year history, it has a secure, 1,000-square-foot, outdoor space where participants may garden and wander on their own.
INSIGHT ALLOWS those with memory impairments to continue living at home, in the community, with day services and support. And, said Bednoski, “The social aspect of being around other people is so important for them.”
Serving the local community since 1984, Insight is the only dementia-specific, adult day center in the Washington, D.C., area and the only center in Northern Virginia with programs for people in the latter stages of an Alzheimer’s illness.
Currently, about 45 people participate in the programs there. A full-time nurse is on hand and all 22 or so staff members are trained in dementia care. The facility’s open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and both the participants and their families are pleased with its offerings.
“The Board was especially touched that 100 percent of our participants in our old space came here,” said Insight Board President Tom West. “And that was the most integral validation for us.”
He said the Board – which contributed $45,000 of its own – hoped to raise $425,000 for the expansion and has raised 60 percent so far. And, he added, “Linda and Lou Mazawey made a significant gift that got our expansion campaign off to the right start.”
“Insight Memory Care Center meets critical, community needs in the dementia area and this was an opportunity to increase the impact,” said Linda Mazawey. “The demand for these services will only be increasing and, with your continued support, we’d like to [someday] be talking about a second location for Insight.”
She works with Care Options, a geriatric-care organization, and is a long-time volunteer in the dementia-care field. And she and her husband donated $125,000 for the Education and Outreach Center named in their honor at Insight’s new building. There, programs are offered for families and professional caregivers.
“My mother had dementia many years ago,” explained Linda Mazawey. “She lived in New York and I was in Virginia, and I joined the Alzheimer’s Assn. through support groups to help me understand my mother’s care. I was also involved in the organization and Insight for 20 years.”
She’s now on the center’s development committee and is glad to help Insight accomplish its mission. “This new facility is a big, financial undertaking for them, and [their work] is so important,” she said. “I appreciate the hands-on support this center brings to the community.”
PATRICIA ROHRER, a long-term care program developer with Fairfax County’s Health Department, said Insight has been a “key partner” of the county for many years. “We’re truly impressed at the care and support the staff provides to members of our community,” she said. “And we’re equally excited at the anticipation of growth from the expansion of the new center.”
Noting that dementia-care needs are growing, she said, “In Fairfax County, there’ll be a 25-percent increase in the number of people 50-69 years old and a 58-percent increase in the number of people 70 years and older, from 2005 to 2020.”
But Rohrer also stressed that the county has been preparing for this rise for quite awhile. “Both the Board of Supervisors’ 50+ Community Action Plan and the Long Term Care Coordinating Council have a priority focus on building service capacity for older adults and family caregivers,” she said. Rohrer then acknowledged Insight staff member Christi Clark for chairing the Long Term Care Coordinating Council’s Services for Seniors Committee, and Council Chairman Pat Williams for her many years on the Council.
“Insight Memory Care Center works in collaboration, not just with us at Fairfax County, but with other organizations in the community,” said Rohrer. “Because of these collaborations, collectively, we’re able to make a real difference for older adults. As more and more families will be faced with a dementia diagnosis, it’s wonderful to know that Insight is here, at an expanded capacity, to care, educate and support our families.”
Since Insight fulfills such a critical need, she said, the community’s “fortunate to have such a center. Alzheimer’s and other memory impairments are hard and take a major toll on caregivers. Thank you for all you do and congratulations on a huge milestone in your organization.”