18-year-old Daisy Villa, caring for her grandmother doesn’t feel like a burden – she considers it an opportunity to spend time with a loved one. When Villa’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her family worked together to provide 24-hour care, and Villa assumed caregiver responsibilities after school. Now, Villa is her grandmother’s full-time caregiver and is part of the 1.3 million youth who provide care to aging relatives. Villa was one of six caregivers honored by Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County (AAOC) at the Visionary Women Caregivers Luncheon on Friday. Elaine Stephen – Family Caregiver Award: In 2000, Elaine Stephen’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. After living in Oregon for 24 years, Stephens retired to provide her husband with 24-hour care and moved back to California to be closer to family for support. Stephen sought help from Alzheimer’s Association, and after her husband passed in 2005, has continued to volunteer for the nonprofit’s 24/7 helpline.
Patty Roberts – Professional Caregiver/Direct Service Award: Patty Roberts knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was five years old. She began nursing school, but when several family members became ill, she dropped out to help care for them. Roberts tried her hand in the corporate world, but her heart drew her back to caregiving. After working in hospitals for 13 years as a certified nursing assistant, Roberts found her calling as a CAREGiver at Home Instead Senior Care in Mission Viejo.
Rama Meka – Administrative Professional Award: As administrator at her husband’s practice, Amistad Medical Clinic, Rama Meka helps manage four clinics in Orange County and Long Beach and conducts community outreach, through which she was introduced to Alzheimer’s Association. With a background in nonprofit work, Meka began volunteering with AAOC where she works at various health fairs and attends conferences to advocate for Latinos diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Carla Turney – Administrative Professional Award: After her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2002, Turney dedicated her life to providing her with the best possible care before she passed. It was during this time she learned about caregiving and in 2011, she ended her tenure teaching to pursue a career in healthcare. As director of Assured In-Home Care, Turney is responsible for community outreach and client care.
Marisol Ramirez – Medical/Clinical Professional Award: Born and raised in South America, Marisol Ramirez retired from the oil industry after more than 25 years and moved to the United States in 2010. Ramirez accepted a job as a case manager assistant at Age Well Senior Services where she serves the Latino senior community in South Orange County. Through her work at Age Well, Ramirez connected with AAOC and immediately felt compelled to help advocate for seniors in the Latino community who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Spearheading the Visionary Women group’s advocacy efforts is The Visionary Women Leadership Circle comprised of Jacqueline Dupont, Susan Johnson, Jeannie Lawrence, Diane Mondini and Stacy Schlinger. 2015 sponsors include: Alaska Airlines, Caring Compassions at Home, First American Trust, Rancho Las Lomas, Silverado Care, Susan’s Healthy Gourmet, Xan Confections, Irvine Cottages, Chatterton & Associates, Merrill Lynch and Applied Medical.
For more information on AAOC’s no-cost programs and services for those affected by Alzheimer’s, please call (949) 955-9000 or visit www.alz.org/oc.