Alzheimer's Disease Center
University of California, Davis
The Family Connection
Spotlight on Patricia Smith
Patricia Smith is a health educator, social worker and practitioner. On any given day she can be found at work in her community visiting Alzheimerís patients at home or at the hospital clinic in consultation with a family who may have a loved one with the disease. A Berkeley native, being a part of her community is all in a dayís work for Patricia.
Patricia is coordinator of the UC Davis Alzheimerís Disease Center (UCD ADC) satellite clinic at Highland Hospital in Oakland. The clinic provides complete diagnostic evaluation, family support services, and research opportunities for families who wish to participate. The clinic is designed to reach out to the ethnically diverse residents of Oakland and outlying areas who have not traditionally used the services offered by the UCD ADC clinics in Berkeley or Sacramento.
Working closely with families gives Patricia a heightened awareness of the misconceptions some may have about Alzheimerís disease. She explains, ìFor instance one caregiver thought that only people who are highly educated get Alzheimerís disease, or a family member or friend may think that their loved one doesnít ìactî like someone with the disease.î
There is no cure for Alzheimerís disease, but families can learn whether or not their loved one has Alzheimerís or some other form of dementia. Patricia says, ìSometimes the person may be experiencing depression which is treatable, whatever the diagnosis, families get a full range of information that can help them through a difficult time.î
Almost all of Patriciaís patients continue to live in the home. She works with families to offer a full range of referrals. In addition to diagnostic and research information, she is an advocate for respite and shares information about support groups sponsored through the Alzheimerís Association.
Patients who have been diagnosed may be invited to participate in research projects. Clinical trials, which are almost always ongoing at the UCD ADC, offer patients and families the opportunity to try new treatments for Alzheimerís disease. Patricia believes that itís important to dispel the myths that may be associated with research. She says, "Research is a link to better understanding, and one day a cure for Alzheimer's disease."