As a teenager, Andrew Zeldin watched his parents care for his grandmother and great aunt, both of whom suffered from dementia. This firsthand experience, with the challenges and complexities of caring for a loved one suffering from Early Stage Dementia, formed Andrew’s career path.
In addition to earning a Master’s Degree in Gerontology of Applied Science from UNCW, Andrew also completed a certificate program in Geriatric Care Management through the University of Florida. He is certified as a Geriatric Care Manager through the International Commission on Health Care Certification and is a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Andrew completed his clinical and practicum work right here in Wilmington, North Carolina via the Elderhaus PACE program. At the Elderhaus Adult Day Care Center, he got lots of hands-on experience learning how to talk to people with Alzheimer’s/Early Stage Dementia, how to recognize physical cues, and how to facilitate group discussions.
Today, Andrew works independently as an advocate for clients and their family members. He ensures that family members, medical professionals and their counselors are all informed and “on the same page” in order to provide the best quality of life possible for his clients. Andrew keeps 24/7 office hours, so that he is always available to those he serves, whether that means connecting them to resources, accompanying them to doctor visits, helping out during a crisis, or just listening when a client needs to talk. Often Andrew’s clients have adult children who live out-of-state and are unable to provide immediate hands-on support. He’s the one who takes notes at the doctor appointments to inform the family, or accompanies the clients to the emergency room. Andrew thinks of himself as a “surrogate” adult child and strives to care for each client as if he or she were his own parent.
While visiting a geriatric outreach mentor in Southern Pines, Andrew had the opportunity to attend a support group designed for those with Alzheimer’s and Early Stage Dementia. Although there are many groups designed for the caregivers of those experiencing early stage memory loss due to Alzheimer’s or related dementias, there are very few programs devoted to care recipients, or those who have actually been diagnosed. Andrew’s colleague had initially designed the group as a 10-week program, but the participants got so much out of it, they asked to continue indefinitely. As he witnessed the spirited sharing among the Early Stage Dementia Support Group, and learned how much the participants benefit from the meetings, Andrew was inspired to bring the concept to Wilmington.
As a Geriatric Care Manager, Andrew Zeldin knows about the needs, challenges, and fears of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Early Stage Dementia. It is his job to maintain the well-being, independence, and dignity of elders and dependent adults, while balancing the needs and problems of families caring for them. Andrew works with people from 40-90+ years old, and has seen firsthand that a diagnosis or the progression of Alzheimer’s or Early Dementia, doesn’t mean one has to stop living life.
As an example, he cites a person with Dementia who is an avid golfer. He continues to golf regularly and can hit that ball like nobody’s business, but he now golfs with a group of friends who have designed a support system to help him with scoring since he is unable to remember all his shots. Another way to cope with Alzheimer’s and Early Stage Dementia is to share with other people having the same experience. Furthermore, the chances of successfully living with the diseases are much better if those with the diagnoses (and their families) are prepared for what’s ahead.
Click here to read Part Two of this series where Andrew explains the structure of the Forget-Me-Nots Program and how it will benefit both caregivers and care receivers dealing with Alzheimer’s and Early Stage Dementia.