FOR OFFICIAL RELEASE | MAR 9, 2017
The Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center was recently invited to participate in a session for second-year medical students at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine at Hofstra University. The session, part of a weekly series in the students' current neurology/psychiatry rotation, presented information related to Alzheimer's disease, from a family member's perspective and from a Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center staff member. Dr. Allan Vann, who cared for his wife, Clare, after her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease 10 years ago, offered a personal look at the toll the disease has on families and the importance of support groups. Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center Social Worker Melissa Katz spoke of Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center's mission to improve the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer's disease, and related forms of dementia, and their families. She outlined the programs and services Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center has available at each stage of the disease.
Second-year medical student Brian Emmert, whose father, Brian Emmert, Sr., serves on Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center's Board of Trustees, initially discussed the possibility of a presentation by Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center with Lauren Block, MD, Liaison, MD MPH Program for Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. Brian has first-hand knowledge of the effect an Alzheimer's diagnosis has on families, from volunteering at Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center over several summers and from his grandfather, who had Alzheimer's disease. He believes future doctors gain valuable insight by learning about a disease from a personal perspective; by becoming more aware that a physician does not just treat the patient, but the entire family. "They (the students) got ideas of what works and what doesn't. How to talk with families. It's so important to learn about the experiences of the caregivers, to treat the family and the patient. It's just as important as learning about the clinical side. Allan Vann was an amazing speaker. He gave us a view into the caregiver's life, as well as the patient's."
Dr. Block praised the information, as well, saying, "It was a good introduction to the students on the different stages of Alzheimer's and the effects on the patients and their caregivers. It offered a unique perspective. The feedback from the students was great."
Dr. Vann's wife passed away last April. He and Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center were connected through much of his and his wife's journey with Alzheimer's. A staunch advocate for caregivers, Dr. Vann participated on a caregivers' panel with Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center about five years ago. His presentation at Hofstra was his first time speaking before medical students, and, as he had on the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center panel, spoke about his caregiver role and the importance of being in a support group. Dr. Vann emphasized the need for future doctors to advocate for change in this respect.
Melissa Katz, who is the Director of Early Stage Programs/In-Home Respite at Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, spoke about the various stages of the disease's progression and gave the medical students an overview of Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center. "I talked about all of our different programs that we have available throughout each stage, the caregiver support groups we have for the spouses and adult children of individuals with Alzheimer's, the Brain Fitness sessions we have and about our in-home respite." She also stressed that Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center's social workers provide continuous support and are always available by phone. "One thing I focused on was, that even though there are over 50,000 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties living with Alzheimer's, naturally many families feel like they're the only ones going through it, or still experience the stigma attached to the disease. At Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, we work to relieve this feeling."
Ms. Katz thanked Dr. Vann for sharing tips on how to approach individuals with Alzheimer's and his emphasis on the need for care for the caregivers. She says, "He told the students how important it is for caregivers to have a safe place to discuss their feelings on how difficult the journey is. He told them it helps to realize that everyone in the support group is walking in the same shoes and can share advice with each other confidentially."
Caption: Dr. Allan Vann and Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center Social Worker Melissa Katz (3rd and 4th from left) presented information on Alzheimer's disease at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine to second-year medical students, including Brian Emmert, 2nd from left. They were welcomed by Hofstra Professor Maya Frankfurt, PhD, Human Condition course director, (far left) and Northwell's Dr. Lauren Block, Humanities in Medical Ethics program coordinator.
For more information about the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, please call (516) 767-6856.