The new full-service center of the Alzheimer's Association of Los Angeles, located in leased space in CSUN's Monterey Hall building, achieves the association's longtime goal of creating a local base for its community services and resources in the San Fernando Valley region.
The center will offer such dementia-related resources as information about Alzheimer's disease; educational events for caregivers, the general public and students; professional and paraprofessional training and walk-in family consultation, family assistance and support groups.
The association's campus presence also forms a new partnership with the university's College of Health and Human Development, and particularly its Communication Disorders and Sciences Department, that should create new training and education opportunities for CSUN students.
"This opening ceremony has tremendous significance to CSUN," President Kennedy said. "Not only are we welcoming an important partner to the campus, but we also are celebrating the beginning of a new era. This is an important step toward our goal of increasing collaborations with the community."
Discussing future plans to have Monterey Hall become a one-stop referral source for many campus services, the president added, "The opening of the Alzheimer's Association Center at CSUN is the beginning of a commitment to make Monterey Hall the community's service gateway to our campus."
The alliance between the Alzheimer's Association and the university is a first-of-its-kind venture for both organizations. The association's Cal State Northridge location also will be its only facility in Los Angeles County, other than the group's main office in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles.
Professor Stephen Sinclair, chair of CSUN's Communication Disorders and Sciences Department, said he expects CSUN graduate students training to become speech language pathologists, as well as those in other fields, will help handle patient and family referrals from the Alzheimer's Association center.
In February, Sinclair's department opened an Adult Aphasia and Dementia Clinic overseen by associate professor Randall Aker and staffed by Aker and graduate students. The clinic serves aphasia patients (those with impaired speech due to stroke) and will expand to deal with Alzheimer's disease.
"This is a strategic advance for the university," Sinclair said. CSUN students learning to become professionals will get real-world experience and training, including working with outside groups. And the alliance will help CSUN meet the tremendous demand for more caregivers in the field.
"The Alzheimer's Association Center is important because it demonstrates that partnerships and collaborations are vital to the university," said HHD Dean Ann Stutts. Over time, CSUN students from other academic disciplines are expected to join in the care process through multi-disciplinary teams.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that attacks the brain and results in memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment and personality changes. It is the most common cause of severe intellectual impairment in the elderly and is a primary cause for nursing home placements.
State officials estimate that more than 500,000 Californians are affected by the illness, and the Alzheimer's Association says more than 150,000 of those are in Los Angeles County. At present, it is not known what causes the disease or how to prevent or cure it-although symptoms can be reduced.
Twice Emmy-nominated actress Shelley Fabares, a national spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Association, was the guest speaker at the center's opening ceremony on Friday, April 28. The center will be headed by association regional director Rachelle Bloch, and can be reached at (818) 677-4404.