The Adult Day Center located at the Center at the Park provides a safe alternative for a loved one who requires caregiving from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., allowing caregivers to take what can sometimes be a much-needed break.
At the Adult Day Center, Program Manager Audrey Renaud said, "What's new now is that we have a nurse who's here two days a week; she doubles as an activities director."
The program provides a great deal for the clients, such as companionship and diversion and activities, including crafts, music, exercise and a nutritious meal. It really provides respite for family caregivers. Caregiving for a loved one can be very stressful and no matter how much you love them, caregivers can get tired, sometimes to an extreme. That's not good for them or their family.
"Respite for a caregiver is extremely important. It's easy to get burned out," she says. "Once you're burned out it's easy to get impatient with a client. It's like being with a fussy child 24/7. Everybody needs a break. Everybody needs to do something just for themselves. If you're ‘on' all the time, it's not good for your health."
While this time away from the responsibilities of caregiving helps the caregiver, it's also quality time for their loved one.
Renaud emphasizes the quality of the center's activities. Some of the clients have Alzheimer's and some have various types of dementia so many activities address memory and cognitive skills. Music is a big part of the program and it is often paired with exercise. Renaud said that music is one of the last memories to leave in clients with severe Alzheimer's. Simple tasks and projects are beneficial, such as folding towels and rearranging chairs, for those who are physically able.
"We often play school, have a spelling test or questions about geography or history," Renaud said. "We try to have a hands-on craft by individual ability."
Renaud just got picture frames, to be decorated with glitter and paints. Clients also paint bird houses, some are simple and some more complicated. These activities help keep skills sharp, according to Renaud. Verbal skills deteriorate before other brain functions, she said. And music is the longest lasting memory. So there's plenty of music incorporated into the program. There are bright colors and decorations.
"We decorate for main holidays every month. My motto is ‘any excuse for a party!'" Renaud said. "We also make things to put in the fair. They get a ribbon and that makes you feel good about yourself."
According to Renaud, researchers are still trying to find a definite cause of Alzheimer's so they can find a cure. "It's a devastating disease that destroys a person's potential. They progress from infancy to adulthood then from adulthood back to infancy again.
"Alzheimer's can really change personalities. If the person was strong and powerful they can become mellow. If they're mellow they can become violent. You never know," she said.
"We'd like to be able to expand our offerings. We used to be a Day Health Center but we had to cut back on personnel. When we get more clients, we can expand our activities and perhaps hire a CNA," Renaud said.
Right now the center operates with a handful of part-time staff, about four volunteers and plenty of goodwill from others.
"We couldn't even do half of what we do now without the donations from the public," she said. She and staff are very appreciative of the donations from the community and the grants they've received.
"If you are curious about the program, call and talk with us, ask questions," Renaud said. For more information about the Adult Day Center call 509-527-0771.