Students get hands-on experience with Alzheimer’s, dementia patients — and give caregivers a break

Junyan Zhang, left and Tongge Jiang volunteer with the Youthcare program in downtown Los Angeles. (Photo/Nihal Satyadev)

Students get hands-on experience with Alzheimer’s, dementia patients — and give caregivers a break

Paul needs to remember to bring pie to Aunt Rose’s party.

“What’s something that would help you remember this?” 18-year-old Charlotte Miller asks him. “What reminds you of your aunt and pie?”

Paul is quiet for a bit. He thinks.

Paul, 81, eventually comes up with a story — going grocery shopping with Aunt Rose and seeing a pie right when they walk in. Once a week, for a few hours, he practices memory games like these with Miller, a USC freshman. They meet at a clinic in Downtown Los Angeles, a couple blocks from L.A. Live.

It’s part of a program called Youthcare, which recently partnered with the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

Founded by University of Redlands senior Nihal Satyadev, the social enterprise offers affordable respite care for unpaid family caregivers caring for someone with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Student volunteers, who are trained on the UCLA Longevity Center’s Brain Bootcamp Memory Program, work with the clients for a few hours a week.

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