Tony Matera was just 65 when he was diagnosed with dementia. His family – his wife, Sue, his daughters, and his seven-year-old granddaughter – suddenly found themselves facing what over 200,000 families experience each year: the devastating spectra of memory loss, and the adjustment of their expectations for the future.
For over 30 years, the Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia (LIAD) Center has been offering families like the Materas a community where they can turn for understanding, supportive care that provides stability in the face of uncertainty.
The LIAD Center believes that there is life worth living after a diagnosis. As one of the longest-operating organizations on Long Island for those with dementia, the LIAD Center takes pride in providing innovative, community-based support services from pre-diagnosis through end-of-life for individuals with memory loss and their families. The LIAD Center serves as an anchor for those with memory issues, providing them with social opportunities and a sense of consistency that is essential to their well-being. Additionally, the LIAD Center’s hands-on programs help individuals maintain their independence and their connection to family and community, deferring costly nursing home placement. Equally important, the LIAD Center provides caregivers with critically needed respite from the stresses of around-the-clock care.
When Sue Matera became Tony’s primary caregiver, she turned to the LIAD Center for information, respite and support, and the family quickly became regulars. Through the LIAD Center’s social adult day program, education and training sessions, social events, and fundraisers, the Matera family cultivated new friendships, created cherished memories, and found a renewed quality of life. “Just walking into the facility and seeing all the smiling faces can brighten up the day of someone living with dementia, whether diagnosed or caregiver,” said Sue. “I am so grateful to the LIAD Center for giving my family hope, education, and a platform.”
Alongside our community of families and participants, we have built a collaborative, passionate core of partners whose generosity and desire to help their neighbors informs all we do. Even Tony and Sue’s oldest granddaughter – seven-year-old Jessica – has found inspiration in her family’s experience with the LIAD Center and has raised over $1,500 in the past two years by selling hand-made jewelry and running a lemonade stand. “I know the program my grandpa attends needs support, so my grandpa and other grandparents can have a place to go where they can be safe, happy, and be themselves.”
Despite Tony’s passing, The Matera Family is still very much a part of our LIAD Center family. Sue helped to implement the center’s new bereavement support group and Tony’s daughters, Lisa and Lauren continue to advocate for the LIAD Center’s services. “While all families leave an imprint on our hearts, the Matera family, in particular, has inspired me beyond measure,” said Tori Cohen, Executive Director. The LIAD Center is thrilled to honor the Matera family for their continued support and inspirational hard work at our 26th Annual Golf Classic on September 14, 2020.
Every step of the way, through every challenge, the LIAD Center has remained at the forefront of caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Today, our vital hands-on services have been adjusted to provide families necessary relief and resources during this difficult time and are making strides to assure long-term success as well. We continue to provide five relationship-specific support groups, group brain fitness workshops, educational trainings, fundraisers, and social events for our community to remain connected, stimulated and supported. Our annual events have also moved to virtual platforms, such as our upcoming Cocktails and Comedy Night, which will be a virtual comedy show and networking event for our partners and families.
The Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center is proud to continue its mission to help improve quality of life for families living with dementia through new avenues. Our pivoted programs and innovative staff swiftly respond to the critical needs of families struggling to cope with the ‘new normal.’ Until there is a cure, the LIAD Center is, and always has been, the best solution to find hope, comfort and support.