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Clients "Party Hard" at Elder Day Stay

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Elder Care Services
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Those who recognize the name Elder Care Services probably connect it mostly to the Meals-on-Wheels program.  But the organization also offers a place for otherwise home-bound seniors to spend time in an active, social setting.

On this particular Monday in July, Elder Day Stay Director Vicky Thomas was proudly giving a grand tour of the facility,

“This is our multi-purpose room, our dining room…this morning we played bingo, now it’s all set up for lunch,” she said, entering an area off the main hallway.  “We craft in here and do all kinds of stuff.  And we do all the Meals-on-Wheels so we get them delivered, so I don’t have to cook, thank God!  So the food comes to the kitchen, we get it ready and get it on out.  Two handicapped-accessible bathrooms back here.  Then we have our LPN Nurse Mr. Patrick.  And then this is the main room back here, so this is our dayroom and they’re watching the ‘Price is Right’.”

The “they” she refers are three-dozen some seniors who spend a good part of their time each week at Elder Day Stay.  The facility is located a few doors down from Hopkins Eatery in the shopping complex across Monroe Street from Lake Ella.  Sitting in a rocker just off the entryway is Client Charles Pope.  He used to be the sheriff of Marion County, Georgia.  He remembered back then how law enforcement in small towns didn’t always mean having to haul the offender off to jail.

“You did a lot more persuasion talking then just going up to the man and saying, ‘You’re fixing to go to jail, bud!,’ he smiled.”

Then there was Tommy Campbell.  Instead of a client, he’s actually a volunteer.

“I’m 80 years old,” he proclaimed proudly.  “How do you like my flowers?”

And indeed, Tommy’s flowers and other plantings around the front of the building are the equal of any professional gardener’s.  Dawn Aguaro, meanwhile, is a caregiver.  She had just dropped off her 83 year old mom Loretta who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease.  Dawn and her husband both work and they’ve also worked out a schedule for Loretta between Elder Day Stay and the Alzheimer’s Project nearby.

“So we use that a little bit and this supplements the rest of the time for us and this really is a fabulous resource because of the hours they’re open, too,” she said.  “They’re open until five and is a little less disruptive if I have to come and pick up Mom.”

A respite that Aguaro said is blessed relief for her and her husband.

“It’s good to know that she’s in a safe place all the way around and it’s huge.  It makes it possible for us to have a little bit of our normal lives, you know.”

Elder Day Stay Director Vicky Thomas described her clients as representing almost every activity and ability level.

“All ends of the spectrum, maybe a physical ailment or a cognitive situation.  Or maybe people who are just home alone all day and they’re watching a lot of TV and sitting and they’re looking to get out and be with people their own age and have a more structured environment where they can go be safe.”

Thomas added there were many kinds of activities available.

“This morning, we played Bingo,” she said.  “This afternoon, we’re going to be singing with Sue, a volunteer who’s been coming for 15 years singing hymns with us.  During the week, we do seated exercise three times a week in the afternoon which is really good for the body and the mind, too.  We’ll do trivia.  Last week we played Jeopardy.”

There’s so much to do, in fact, that Thomas said one recent client was somewhat taken aback.

“It was his first week and his caregiver said, ‘What do you think about this place?’ and he said, ‘Well, I really like it, but you know they party really hard.  I’m not used to partying this hard anymore!’”

But Thomas said there were also lots of chances for relaxation, too.  To find out more about Eldercare Services Elder Day Stay, check out the web site: www.ecsbigbend.org.