Staff spotlight: Sandra Green, Family Care Specialist

 

To help you meet the amazing Alzheimer’s Association team who are “The Brains Behind Saving Yours®,” we are sharing the stories of our chapter staff on this blog. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Green, one of the Family Care Specialists in our San Jose office.

Origins in Nicaragua
Sandra Green came from Nicaragua to the United States after being a nurse for over five years. She worked hard to obtain her California nursing license.

Sandra with her mother and nephews

Sandra worked in the long term care industry for 30 years. She cared for the residents and also provided staff training. It was in this role that Sandra first came in contact with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Encouragement from a friend
In 2015, a friend who worked for the Alzheimer’s Association told Sandra about a job opening and encouraged her to apply. Sandra was familiar with the programs offered by the Association and had also participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. She applied and was excited to be selected for the position.

Joining the Alzheimer’s Association
As a Family Care Specialist, Sandra provides tips to caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias on how to manage the stresses of caregiving and encourages them to learn more about the disease. She provides care consultations to individuals and families, such as those just beginning to care for a family member.

It is important that Alzheimer’s Association services are available to all in our diverse region. Most of the community presentations Sandra gives are in Spanish. She also regularly communicates with the Spanish-speaking media.

Reaching the Latino Community
In her role as a bilingual Family Care Specialist, Sandra has noticed that some in the Latino community have a lack of awareness about Alzheimer’s. She has seen that some families may believe it is just normal aging.

Sandra has also found some to be reluctant to ask for help from community resources. Instead, they often prefer to rely on family and friends.

Sandra continually works to educate families and let them know about available support. In her experience, it is critical to start working with families as soon as someone receives a diagnosis.

The joy of helping others
Sandra said that she likes the friendship and support she receives by working for the Alzheimer’s Association. “It feels good to come to work the morning,” she shared.

Sandra and her daughters at the Silicon Valley Walk

While working for the Alzheimer’s Association, Sandra has learned more about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. She has increased her understanding of how dementia affects persons living with the disease and caregivers alike.

The main message Sandra tries to convey is that someone with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can still have a good quality of life. Sandra reinforces that caregivers can learn and practice techniques to make things easier on the persons with the disease and the caregiver.

You helped me get my life back
One of the things Sandra most enjoys is helping people, especially caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s. “It feels good when people tell you, ‘You changed my life,’” said Sandra.

Sandra shared a story of a participant who had attended one of her education presentations in San Francisco. Prior to attending the workshop, the caregiver had been fighting with her mother frequently.

In the workshop, Sandra provided communication tips and shared information on community resources. “I used the tips you gave me,” she later told Sandra, “and boy what a difference it made.”

The caregiver enrolled her mother in an adult day program. The caregiver has started sleeping better. She thanked Sandra for helping her to get her life back.

Following her own advice

Mary and her son, Ronald

Sandra is one of eight children. Her mother, Mary, worked as a seamstress, making wedding gowns. When Sandra was growing up, Mary was always taking care of everything in the family.

Two years ago, Mary was diagnosed with dementia. Now, Sandra is Mary’s primary caregiver. Sandra shared that Mary inspires her to help others.

Working full-time and being a caregiver keeps Sandra busy. But she still finds time to take care of herself by going out to dinner with friends or getting a massage.

We appreciate Sandra for all that she does to support families in our community who are impacted by Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments. Is there a particular individual or job at the Alzheimer’s Association that you want us to feature on the blog? Let us know in the comments.

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Thanks to volunteer, Sheri Katz, for her assistance with this post.