Sun City Couple Finds Comfort & Support in Sun Health’s New Resource for Alzheimer’s, Dementia Patients & Caregivers

In September 2013 while hospitalized for knee replacement surgery, John O’Donnell received a frightening diagnosis. On top of the Parkinson’s disease he’d been living with for the past 20 years, his doctor diagnosed him with mild dementia.

John and his wife Karen, Sun City residents, were faced with all the standard post-diagnosis questions and looked for help immediately. Karen had the foresight to speak with a social worker at the hospital who directed them to Sun Health’s new Memory Care Navigator program. 

Sun Health recently launched the Memory Care Navigator, a new resource for west valley residents diagnosed with memory loss and their caregivers. The free service helps connect patients with information, services, and supports and aids them as they navigate through the unforeseen ups and downs of their dementia diagnosis.

“When you’re dealing with a new, scary health situation, you need as much expert advice as you can get and that’s what Memory Care Navigator does,” said Karen. “If you have the opportunity, be sure to use this resource. They will help you, give you a way to get organized and teach you things you need to know and be prepared for when dealing with this challenging diagnosis.”

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, every four seconds a new case of dementia is diagnosed in the U.S. The growth of dementia in people age 65 and older is staggering. In fact, in Arizona it’s estimated 130,000 people will have Alzheimer’s by 2025.

“For each individual patient, hearing the diagnosis is frightening and the questions that follow are countless,” said Marty Finley, dementia expert for Memory Care Navigator. “A doctor can only provide so much time throughout the diagnostic process. Our Memory Care Navigator program is here for extended support and education.”

The Memory Care Navigator gives patients and their caregivers the tools to become their own health care advocate. Services include assessments of the current situation and an action plan created specifically for each patient and caregiver. This plan plays an essential role in addressing the daily challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia as well as long-term planning resources.

For more information about the Memory Care Navigator, call (623) 832-9300 or visit www.sunhealth.org/memorycare.