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Visionary Women
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7th Annual Visionary Women Caregiver Luncheon

It was our honor to celebrate caregivers last week at the scenic Rancho Las Lomas. 2012 Honoree, Jeannie Lawrence opened her stunning home, complete with lush landscapes and exotic animals, to host our 2013 Visionary Women Luncheon guests.

Actress Rita Moreno shared of her personal experience as Alzheimer's is now affecting her beloved husband, Lenny.

For a glimpse of all the event photos, click here.

Each year, the Visionary Women Circle of the Alzheimer's Association honors Orange County caregivers who display extraordinary compassion in caring for those touched by Alzheimer's disease and related forms of dementia.

Become a member of the Visionary Women 100
Help us raise AWARENESS of Alzheimer’s disease among women in our community. Because women are at highest risk of having Alzheimer’s and are most likely to be caregivers for someone with the disease, the information you will learn and the connections you will make may prove invaluable to you and those you care for.

Your membership includes invitations to an incredible array of social and learning opportunities.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Visionary Women 100.
Please call Ann at 949.757.3714 for 2013 calendar of events.

Help us to recognize our 2013 Visionary Women Honorees:
Dolores Estrella
Jane Mahakian, Ph.D, MFT
Josefina Ortiz
Aileen Sherman
Deziree Bedolla
Stephanie Gieskes

These are their stories:

Family Caregiver Honoree: Dolores Estrella, Buena Park
In some ways, Dolores Estrella resembles many Americans impacted by Alzheimer’s—she quit her job to take care of her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In other ways, though, she is unique. When her husband was officially diagnosed with the disease in 2008, she had heard about Alzheimer’s Association so she called to get information. While still working, she attended a weekly course given by Alzheimer’s Association Orange County to learn how to be a caregiver. The help she received was an encouragement, it helped her to know what to expect, and it showed her how to care for herself. Today, she attends the Alzheimer’s Association Orange County support group in Cypress. Though her husband now lives in a board and care, Dolores sees him daily to feed him, and brings him home for special occasions. 

Medical Professional Honoree: Jane Mahakian, Ph.D, MFT, San Clemente
As a child growing up around her grandparents, Dr. Jane, as she’s called, tried to understand the memory issues that she saw unfolding in her grandparents’ lives. What she learned years later with an advanced degree is that memory loss is a different language. “We need to learn this language for them,” she affirms. Today, through her consulting business, she helps families navigate, with integrity and confidence, through the information and decisions of placing a loved one with Alzheimer’s. In addition to her practice, she recently began a drop-in clinic in San Clemente where concerned family members can meet with her in private, free of charge, to discuss next steps for their loved ones facing Alzheimer’s. She is a co-founder of the Alzheimer’s Association of Armenia, and a board member of a home for disadvantaged young women in Armenia.

Family Caregiver Honoree: Josefina Ortiz, Riverside
Josefina Ortiz knows all too well what Alzheimer’s can do to a family. As a young girl, she watched her mother end up in a vegetative state and eventually die from Alzheimer’s. Later, her sister was diagnosed with the disease, and passed away. Today, Josefina, a working mother and wife, takes care of her brother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She finds strength at the Alzheimer’s Latino Support group she attends in Santa Ana, encouragement from her husband, and inspiration from the one person who always calls to check on her—Norma Castellano, the multicultural coordinator at Alzheimer’s Association Orange County.

Administrative Professional Honoree: Aileen Sherman, Tustin
She had heard about Alzheimer’s when President Ronald Reagan announced that he had the disease. Still, she remained in denial that it would never happen to her mom. When her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Aileen Sherman, like so many people, thought she could take care of her mom. When she realized she couldn’t, she placed her mom at Irvine Cottages, memory care assisted living homes in Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Newport Beach. Aileen volunteered her time while her mom was a resident. After her mom passed away 18 years ago, she became the Family Services Director who can understand what families are going through at every level. 

Youth Caregiver Honoree: Deziree Bedolla, Garden Grove
Her childhood is passing her by. She’s given up being on her school’s soccer team. Since finances are tight, she didn’t have a Quincenera. And to help cover the expenses of taking care of her grandmother, she gave up her Christmas and birthday presents. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. Deziree Bedolla, a 16 year-old high school student from Garden Grove who cares for her grandmother by helping with her oxygen, feeding, bathing, entertaining her.  She helps with home physical therapy so her grandmother can remember how to write her name and words. 

Professional Caregiver Honoree: Stephanie Gieskes, Anaheim
Stephanie Gieskes dedication to her patients is evident through the effort and creativity that she demonstrates in developing personalized activities. While we can commend her empathy and skill, her adaptability and competence, it is Stephanie’s consistency of character, her constant upbeat attitude that makes a difference in the lives for whom she cares. It cannot be said better than Dr. Mosqueda expressed, “we need some of your DNA to clone other caregivers like you.”

The Visionary Women Circle engages women in the community to help expand awareness of Alzheimer's disease, the fourth leading cause of death in Orange County, through education, advocacy and raising funds to support the essential services and programs that are delivered to families at no cost.

The founding members of the Visionary Women Leadership Circle are Kirsten Mangers, Chair, Julia Argyros, Jacque DuPont, Susan Johnson, Lauren Kear, Sandra McDaniel, Beverly Newton-Redfern and Marla Robinson.



4.9.13 TB


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.