Adult Daycare benefits invaluable to caregivers

Published 12:28 am Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chet Smith, who will be 105 on Dec. 1, has been independent, highly active and sociable all his life. But, at the age of 101 in Feb. 2011, he had to give up living alone and move to live with his daughter, Jane Merritt and her husband Lou, who alternate living between their home at Lake Seminole and one in Tallahassee.
Chet has Alzheimer’s, so he needs to have constant oversight and care.
In spite of the Alzheimer’s, his daughter Jane says he is a most pleasant and agreeable person with a great sense of humor, and one who enjoys socializing with others.
Merritt was one of the first to take advantage of the adult respite services, or Alzheimer and Dementia Adult Day first offered in June on the third Wednesday of the month at Wiregrass Church in Bainbridge.
There her dad takes part in games, visits, makes crafts and has lunch, although he cannot tell his daughter what he did or what he had to eat while there. He does go willingly and seems to come back home happy.
The respite services are provided one day a month, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., by trained, certified volunteers from the local Alzheimer’s Support Group.
This gives caregivers a break from the daily routine and frees up time for them to take care of personal business or pleasures, such as shopping, getting their hair done, or visiting with friends.
Merritt said a typical day after she drops her father off is spent visiting with three or four of her friends who are living in personal care homes. Then she goes to the library, followed by lunch with people here who are dear to her heart. She finishes it off with grocery shopping or other chores she wouldn’t be able to accomplish without the freedom of having her father cared for a few hours.
This last month she attended her Decatur County Retired Teacher meeting after dropping her father off, and shared with them the needs of the organization. Lindy Harrell, one of the directors of the program, told her they are in need of additional volunteers and also financial donations to help with the food and other expenses. Consequently, Merritt said the retirees plan to make a donation at their January meeting.
Merritt says of the program, “It is invaluable to someone who deals with this (caring for a loved one) day in and day out. Many do not have any other support or relief available to them.”
Those interested in knowing more about the local program are invited to contact  Sheree Hall at Riverside Place, 248-1116 or 254-8409.

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