Twenty-five years ago, Fort Worth philanthropist Eunice West founded the James L. West Center for Dementia Care in honor of her husband who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. At the time it was only one of three facilities across the country specifically dedicated to treating people affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Since then, the center has served more than 2,500 families and 14,000 caregivers and has been a leader in the field of dementia care. In addition to a 100-person residential program, the center offers a Senior Adult Day Program for people with dementia and training for healthcare providers and caregivers in how to best manage dementia in their loved ones.
On November 6, 2018, the James L. West Center will celebrate with a 25th anniversary luncheon at the Ridglea Country Club in Fort Worth. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will provide opening remarks with Kathryn Childers serving as the keynote speaker.
Childers was one of the first five female U.S. Secret Service Special agents hired in 1970 who conducted counterfeit investigations and protected presidents, the First Family and foreign dignitaries. Notably, she protected Caroline and John F. Kennedy, Jr. while traveling with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis around the world.
She recently lost her husband of 45 years to Alzheimer’s disease and will address the life lessons she’s learned as both a Secret Service Special Agent and a caregiver.
“The mission of a Special Agent in the U.S. Secret Service is to protect and serve,” Childers said. “Not unlike the role of a bodyguard, I found my job as my husband’s caregiver a time to use skills honed in the Secret Service to keep him safe, happy and comfortable.”
Looking ahead, the Center will continue to find new ways to engage those affected by dementia and educate caregivers on how to best help their loved ones.
The Center recently launched a first-of-its kind “dementia friendly” seven-concert series. The series, funded by Gary Cole and the Nina Maria Cole Music and Arts Fund, is receiving concert support from the Fort Worth Arts Council and the Gary Patterson Foundation.
Participating performing arts organizations include DVA Productions, the Fort Worth Opera/TCU Lesley Artists, Cliburn, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Texas Boys Choir and Texas Ballet Theatre.
“We believe those with dementia deserve to be treated with dignity and in a way that maximizes their remaining abilities,” said Cheryl Harding, President and CEO of the West Center. “Until there’s a cure, we’re here to care.”
Tickets to the luncheon can be purchased here.