By Rhyan Nile | Contributing Writer

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. A disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. According to Public Health Action, 690,000 people, aged 65 and older living in California have Alzheimer’s. The disease can be unpredictable in the sense that sometimes patients can live up to five years with the disease or even up to 20 years. It all depends on how quickly the disease progresses. There is currently no cure for this disease, so understanding the proper care is highly essential. 

Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County, Inc. (ADAKC) is located in Bakersfield, CA was incorporated as a non-profit in 1983, and was granted a license by the state of California to provide Adult Day Services in 1984 and has been serving local families for 38 years. Janelle Capra is the Executive Director of the ADAKC and joined the board in 2017, and served as a board president 2018-2019 and was then hired as the director in April 2019. Capra has her own personal journey with Alzheier which led to her passion to want to help others and become an active advocate for the disease. Capra’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers’s at the age of 65 and her and the family did their best to navigate how to help their mother in the best way they can. What Capra took away from her personal experience with the disease and what she practices at the clinic to ensure hope and light to other patients and their families who are battling the disease is 1) they are not alone and 2) we hope to be the light for those who are experiencing the darkest days, to help them with much-needed respite, crisis counseling and weekly support groups. 

They’re so many important roles that go into caring for their clients. One being transportation. Armando Soliz, Air force Veteran, transports clients on the ADAKC bus and ensures their safety to and from. “I make sure to get them home safely and to make sure someone is at the home to greet them, usually that’s a loved one or caregiver. I also coordinate transport services for the family. I have to communicate with the Family Services Manager, the client’s family and the other driver to make sure the route plan and time works for everyone” said Soliz. 

Soliz understands the importance of his job, because he too has a personal connection with this disease. His mother suffered from dementia and Alzheimer for many years, and he spent the last six years of her life caring for her. And that’s why he wanted to get involved with the ADAKC. 

Armando Soliz, Air force Veteran, transports clients on the ADAKC bus.

Alzheimer’s is a battle that can’t be won alone. It takes a lot of care, dedication, kindness, and faith to help be at peace with it all; that is why this clinic is so vital. For the people such as Capra and Soliz who spend their days caring for them, you have to wonder how they feel at the end of each day. “ Blessed and fortunate, I can bring a little comfort to the loved one and client,” said Soliz. 

Recognizing the signs is how we all can start to do our part. This is a slow progressing disease. Forgetfulness and not the type we all suffer “what did I come into this room for?” More like where am I and what am I doing holding keys, what are they for.” Or ” not being able to recognize a loved one or repeatedly asking the same question. So being gentle and consistent is essential. Every Client and their loved ones are extremely grateful for any kindness, care, and resource given to them to help with the disease. So please feel free to help out any way possible. 

Reach out and visit their website at www.adakc.org or call 661-665-8871. The clinic is currently a small but mighty team of 20 and is always looking for compassionate people who want to make a difference for Alzheimer’s families. The clinic welcomes donations of cash or in-kind goods, sponsorship of  fundraising events or the gift of time through volunteering. Email us at info@adakc.org and get involved today!

Bakersfield News Observer coverage of local news in Kern County  is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.