As the first Adult Day Program and Counseling Center in Los Angeles, OPICA (Optimistic People In a Caring Atmosphere) has been serving adults challenged with memory loss and their families in the West Los Angeles area for more than 42 years. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Professor Yung-huo Liu of UCLA and philanthropists Ted and Rita Williams, OPICA became the first social model adult day care center in the City of Los Angeles and later served as the model for the City of Los Angeles’ network for future adult day care centers. Clearly meeting a community need, OPICA’s client base grew rapidly. In 1984, with help of then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a recreation facility in Stoner Park was transformed into OPICA’s current quarters. In 1998-99, a dedicated counseling wing was constructed with private funding, including a generous grant from the Parsons Foundation, to better meet the needs of family caregivers of older adults with memory loss.
In 2006, Mary Michlovich joined OPICA as its Executive Director. She brought with her more than a decade’s worth of experience in working with seniors as well as a passion and vision for a center that consistently provides professional and compassionate staff, a supportive environment and innovative programming to meet evolving community needs. Under her leadership, OPICA has developed and expanded early-stage memory loss and fall prevention programs, a research function to ensure best practices and extensive collaborative networks with community partners.
Today, OPICA provides comprehensive programming specifically focused on all stages of memory loss in a nurturing environment. Offerings include cognitive stimulation activities, such as therapeutic art and music, brain fitness, counseling, education, and The OPICA Brain Train early memory loss program. Through on-site and select satellite programs, OPICA fills a critical need as one of the leading not-for-profit community-based organizations focused solely on memory loss.
In response to the pandemic beginning in March 2020, OPICA began offering programs via Zoom. It quickly grew into more programs offered. In January 2021 OPICA launched OZ, OPICA on Zoom, engaging seniors with activities including exercise, cultural adventures, cognitive activities, home art experiences, and musical engagement and performances.
Celebrating 42 years serving the Alzheimer’s community, OPICA looks to the future with great optimism and excitement. We are in an era where we have more access to age-related information than ever before. We better understand the progression of memory loss, preventative measures and how to best care for ourselves and our families through the journey of dementia.
By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease. OPICA’s mandate to help individuals and families suffering from dementia is more important now than ever, underscoring the need to continue and expand our efforts.
Members of OPICA have lived rich and full lives with amazing stories to tell, and we have the privilege to add to their stories. The looks of joy, wonder, learning and creativity on members’ faces remind us every day that we have so much to offer and learn from one another.