Sunnyside Community Services lands grant to assist Alzheimer’s caregivers

By Bill Parry

One of the borough’s leading providers of caregiver support services has launched a new initiative to provide comprehensive services for caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Sunnyside Community Services will receive $7.5 million over five years as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $67.5 million Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Initiative to alleviate the emotional and financial burdens that are placed upon those who care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s disease affects thousands of New Yorkers each year and takes a devastating toll on both patients and the caregivers,” Cuomo said. “This investment will provide a wide range of support and respite services for caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s and similar diseases.”

According to the governor’s office, the number of cases in New York state is expected to increase from 380,000 to 460,000 by 2025. There are nearly 40,000 individuals 65 or older living with Alzheimer’s disease in Queens and SCS is providing services through its Care NYC program with its partner organization, Queens Community House.

“The SCS Care NYC program empowers caregivers to learn best practices, access benefits, connect to supportive services, and live without the fear, isolation, the hopelessness that can often occur in such situations,” SCS Executive Director Judy Zangwill said. “As a caregiver myself, it’s gratifying to see the transformative power our programs have on a caregiver and their family.”

The five-year grant will enable her organization to expand its Care NYC program, which has been in operation since 2004.

“Here in Sunnyside we’ve focused solely on western Queens, currently helping 350 caregivers,” Care NYC Program Director Shyvonne Nobua said. “Thanks to Gov. Cuomo we’re hoping to reach 720 caregivers a year and our demographic will shift throughout the five boroughs. We’ve already brought on six caregiver support specialists and we hope to have eight that will provide direct support to caregivers.”

The specialists provide one-on-one counseling and peer support groups, information assistance with long-term care planning and training on caregiver skills. They even help with household chores and repairs.

“A unique service we plan on providing is monthly trips to museums or art shows for caregivers and their care receivers, the ones living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia,” Nobua said. “Our hope is that all of these services combined will help reduce caregivers’ stress, depression and isolation because of dealing with progressive and degenerative conditions.”

Sunnyside Community Center was established as a senior center in 1974, began offering licensed home care services in 1979 and introduced youth services in 1983. SCS has worked to respond continuously to community needs, and today provides a broad range of services to nearly 14,000 people each year including children, youth, adults and seniors.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com

.or by phone at (718) 260–4538.