An Inspirational Man
Positively Changing lives of People with Dementia to Honor his Father’s Legacy
By Carole Larkin
I met Alex Nameth and his wife Barbara in 2009 when he was just starting his Adult Day Center called Friends Place of McKinney Texas. I’ve told clients’ families to have them go there, off and on thru the years. It was an excellent Adult Day Center. I visited a number of times and observed how engaged and happy his participants were. I even spoke to his support group, caregivers and persons with dementia both. I was sad when he sold the Day Care to new owners from California last year. Fortunately for the people of McKinney and surrounding towns, they have carried on with his tradition of quality programming, love for their participants and with tremendous compassion for their participants and their families.
It wasn’t until earlier this week when he and I had lunch and a “what are you up to now?” session that I really began to understand in depth what an inspirational human being he is. Here is his story, much condensed.
He was from Michigan. He graduated with a Social Work degree from Michigan State. As time went by, his career morphed into marketing in the world of technology, which was growing by leaps and bounds. Somewhere in that period of time he moved to the Dallas Texas area. His father and 2nd wife were still up in Michigan. His stepmother became very ill. After she passed away, Alex discovered that his father had dementia. That is an all too common occurrence nowadays. A spouse cares for the other spouse, who has dementia, and it is covered up, even to the children out of town. When that spouse dies, the cover up is over. The children discover the truth.
Alex moved his dad to Texas to live with him and his wife. Where they cared for him until he died. His dad didn’t have a lot of money, and Alex wished for a place that was reasonable in cost, but would give his dad some enjoyment, a chance to socialize with others without stigma, and to give his wife and himself some break from the 24/7 caregiving.
After his dad died, Alex decided to create a place for others with a dementia who were in the same situation as he, Barb and his dad. He researched and researched, and found an owner of a (relatively) local day care that was ready to branch out. They got together and Alex bought the rights to open his own day care, under the “Friends Place” Banner. With some mentoring, and a lot of hope, he eventually opened his own Day care, called Friends Place of McKinney.
Even though it was extremely reasonable in price, and was chocked full of wonderful activities for his people to do, it struggled to stay in business the first few years. (Adult Day Centers are very, very, difficult small businesses to own, for a multitude of reasons, not the least is the difficulty of letting the local families find out that his care center existed. They are isolated in their homes, due to the nature of dementia).
Still he persisted, and eventually found grants from the Veteran’s Department and from Texas Medicaid that finally helped populate Friends Place of McKinney enough to allow the business some breathing room to finally have a firm foundation to count /continue on.
After some years, of success with Friends place, he sold Friends Place, and retired (or so he said at the time). Really it turned out to be the incubation period of his next endeavor to expand the benefits of quality Adult Day services to families across the United States, albeit from one step back from direct care himself.
He has partnered with a woman who has many contacts with Adult Day Cares across the country and has developed Webinars to teach them how to make their day cares not only profitable, but also be centers of excellence in programming (activities) and care for people with dementia. He’s a consultant to them, if you will. He teaches the day cares a multitude of techniques designed to help them be the best they can be for their participants. Everything from how to market themselves to their community to which activities work and which don’t.
What a wonderful way to improve the lives of those with dementia, while improving the lives of their caregivers and families. And to top it off, at the end of our conversation, Alex told me that he has done this whole thing as a tribute to his dad, and as a way of continuing his legacy. That comment alone impelled me to consider him inspirational, and to write this article about him.
If there is anyone out there whose loved one goes to a day care, and you think things can be improved from where they are now, show your day care this article. If your day care wants to improve, they can contact Alex at Anameth@tx.rr.com.