Our Place Changed Our Lives
November is a time of gratitude, a month where we pause to appreciate some of the most important unsung heroes among us—family caregivers. Most of these devoted individuals quietly shoulder emotional, physical, and financial burdens to ensure the well-being of their loved ones enduring a health journey. Two caregivers, Jean Phillips and Harriet Hopkins, share the blessing of finding the Alzheimer's Alliance Tri-State Area and Our Place Day Respite Center and how it changed their lives.
The Alzheimer's Alliance and Our Place Day Respite Center have been an enormous blessing in our lives. Before finding Our Place, I felt like I was drowning in 24/7 care. Now that my husband, Jerry, is attending three days a week, he has more purpose. He loves the volunteers, activities, and all the fun they have. I enjoy having some time to myself and time to get things done while he is there. I know, without a doubt, he is in good hands, so I don't have to worry. It is an absolute gift from God, and I am so very grateful for Our Place.
If you are a caregiver or someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, I would positively recommend Our Place Day Respite Center. It is not just a place to take your loved one. They also offer support groups that have helped me tremendously. Sharing our situation lets us learn how others have dealt with a need and found solutions. For example, my husband was getting up and getting out of the house at all hours of the night. Someone shared how their doctor prescribed a sleep medicine to help, and another about alarms for our doors. It solved my problem and enabled me to sleep better without worrying. You can contact the Alzheimer's Alliance about anything you need, and they also provide educational materials. I have never met so many kind and caring people, not just for the patient but also for the caregiver.
The one thing that has encouraged me to stay positive is that I have a huge support group helping me every step of the way. They have become family to me, and I know that they care, not just for Jerry but also for me. I was overwhelmed and didn't feel this way before finding this wonderful place. It has truly been a blessing.
My advice to a first-time caregiver is to educate yourself, educate yourself! Dementia is the umbrella, and under that umbrella are numerous types of dementia.
A) If you realize your family member or friend has changed how they think or their actions, contact the Alzheimer's Alliance. They can provide you with a list of neurologists to help determine the type of dementia your patient is facing. Don't wait too long, as this disease moves quickly and will get to a point where it is hard to determine the type.
B) Start taking your loved one or friend to Our Place Day Respite Center, as the time spent there is precious to them. A time of 9:00 am to 3:00 pm is well-spent with breakfast, lunch, games, entertainment, snacks, and crafts, all in a beautiful, home-like setting.
C) Twice a month, the caregivers meet in a support group to discuss what is happening and share helpful suggestions. During this time, outstanding books and various reading materials are given to the caregiver to help educate them on the stages of the disease and what to expect.
D) The Alzheimer’s Alliance and Our Place Day Respite Center are always there to support you. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 am-4 pm.
E) Special services from the police department and legal assistance are also available to the family.
I am encouraged to stay positive because of my very strong love for a wonderful man! I had some dark days, but I realized if I didn't stay positive, I could not give Jim good days and positive experiences to make his days positive and perhaps longer. My love for him kept me going, and I know if I were in his place, he would have done everything he could for me. We were married for almost 51 years and had known each other even longer than that.
Our Place gave me guidance with so much kindness and understanding. The entire staff guided Jim and me through the new life we had. They turned my tears into strength I didn't know I had. They threw me a lifeline and educated me on what to expect during the stages of Alzheimer's. I was no longer lost.
Our Place provided us with a resource guide where we could connect with hospice in the end. Hospice allowed Jim, me, our two daughters (Katie and Allison), and two of our grandchildren (Allie and Ethan) our last beautiful days together, knowing Jim knew we were right there with him.
I know what caregivers go through all too well, and it has given me the desire to help make their journey as easy as possible. I guess you could say God has given me a job. I cannot stress enough how important a relationship with Our Place is. They will keep you on target and give you a feeling of great comfort during this difficult time.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Alzheimer's Alliance Tri-State Area at 903-223-8021 or go to https://www.alztristate.org/