The James L. West center celebrated its 25th anniversary Nov. 6 by announcing a name change and the launch of a new website that will include a section providing information to caregivers for those dealing with someone suffering from dementia.
“James L. West Alzheimer’s Center has been our name for 25 years and I have had many, many people ask, ‘Do you only care for people who have Alzheimer’s? Do you have to have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis to live at James L. West or to be cared for or supported?’ “ said CEO Cheryl Harding.
“And of course not. We’re care for people with all types of dementia, so we are announcing our new name, which is James L. West Center for Dementia Care,” she said.
That was coupled with the announcement of the launch of an online education portal that will be available 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world.
“Today, approximately 80 percent of people with dementia are being cared for at home,” Harding said. “We do a lot at our center at James L. West, but we do a very important job outside the center with our education program.”
About 16 million people provide unpaid care for persons with dementia in the United States, and 74 percent of caregivers report that they are concerned about their own health, she said.
“I personally have watched as caregivers passed before the person with dementia because they’re just worn out,” Harding said.
The new online portal – jameslwestlearn.org – will be operational soon along with a new website for the center. The project received funding from the George and Adeline McQueen Foundation.
“We will be adding videos to this portal so that even in the middle of the night when you’re lying there awake trying to figure out what to do with your husband and why he’s counting trucks, you can have some time on your electronic device to hear more videos and podcasts,” she said.
The “counting trucks” was a reference to remarks by keynote speaker Kathryn Childers, one of the first five women appointed as Special Agents for the United States Secret Service, whose late husband, Dr. Cecil A. Childers Jr., suffered from dementia. He died July 4, 2018. He was born in Fort Worth.
Childers said that toward the end of his life, he would count trucks while they were in the car, and when she asked him why, he responded that it was because he could still do that.
“The best I could do was keep him happy, safe, comfortable and likely to keep him alive,” Childers said. “I needed something, like what you’re doing with this portal, and many people do.”
Her husband told her that life is too important to take too seriously, and she should lighten up and give back.
“So, I would like to start this pledge drive by donating $1,000 to the caregiver fund and hope that you all will participate, and I know that most of you already have,” she told the audience at
Ridglea Country Club.
“As the incidence of dementia continues to increase, we will continue to stand ready to assist and support caregivers in the Fort Worth and larger North Texas area,” Harding said. “Until there is a cure, we are here to care.”
The James L. West Alzheimer’s Center was founded by Eunice P. West, who witnessed firsthand the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on her husband, Fort Worth business leader and philanthropist James L. West.
To honor her husband’s memory, Mrs. West in 1991 directed the James L. and Eunice P. West Charitable Trust, through the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth, to provide the major funding for construction of a nondenominational facility dedicated solely to caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.