FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — Over 3,000 people depend on 17 facilities around Orange County that provide community-based adult services (CBAS).
In her Fountain Valley home, Diana Ramon cares for her mother Sarah Belledonne, who was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago. They rely on Acacia Adult Day Services in Garden Grove to provide Sarah with socialization and services she'd get at home like physical therapy.
For Diana and Sarah, who enjoys artwork, going to Acacia is something that's essential to their lives.
"She has that interaction that keeps her brain working and keeps her emotions going all at the same time. And so that gives her a better quality of life,” Ramon said.
But just last month, state funding for these services could have been eliminated, as part of proposed cuts by Governor Gavin Newsom. Alzheimer’s Orange County - the organization that runs Acacia Adult Day Serivices - said that with the cuts, they would have lost $4 million in revenue they wouldn’t have been able to replace, and as a result, likely would have had to close their centers.
The center services frail seniors, and the staff has been packing meals for Belledonne, and her peers during the pandemic.
Alzheimer's OC President & CEO Jim McAleer, who has personally had several family members diagnosed with dementia, said he's worried that given the current situation, these services will be on the chopping block again come January.
“With COVID on top of those kind of cuts, our programs would close. Over 3,000 people in Orange County are served by the 17 centers, but many of them would have to shut down, and those folks would have no alternatives except for long-term institution care,” McAleer said.
According to South County Adult Day Services, the cost of in-home care is nearly seven times as expensive as adult day health care. And according to Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 40% of deaths related to COVID-19 have occurred in long-term care facilities.
Putting her mother in a long term institutional care setting during the pandemic is a thought Ramon can’t bear. “It would just be devastating to our home, to our memories of hera and our promises that we’ve made to her when she was able. It would just be horrible,” she said.