When someone is affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it is a battle involving heartache for both caregiver and the person diagnosed. Sometimes, it can feel like nobody understands, or even cares. Both parties are overwhelmed, lonely, and don’t know where to turn.
This was how the story began for both Kay and Joyce. Kay admitted that the loneliness can bring her to tears sometimes. Joyce said that living alone can be a real challenge. All caregivers agree that there is nothing easy about what they do.
This is where the Council on Aging’s Sunshine Center can help. The Sunshine Center is a safe facility that allows people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to receive a full day of care with an array of cognitive and physical activities. Participants are given lunch, exercise, Bingo (Kay’s favorite!), pet therapy, music therapy, arts & crafts, haircuts and so much more.
“These people are my family, too,” said Kay. “I’m very comfortable here; very happy. It’s easy to make friends with good conversation and a smile.”
Companionship is an extremely vital part of the Sunshine Center. The Center provides the participants with a place to belong, which fights off loneliness, depression, and despair, and in turn improves the quality of life for an older adult. It validates that they are valued, needed, and important.
“I just like being here among friends,” Joyce chimed in. “I’m always ready to sing and play games. Coming here helps my daughter so she can take a break.”
Allowing a caregiver respite care is essential to this situation. More often than not, caregivers still need to work and may have children of their own to care for. This program allows for caregivers to be able to go to work, and be rest assured that their loved ones are safe. It also may allow them to go shopping for a few hours, or even go see a movie. Council on Aging also offers caregiver support groups and other caregiver resources, so they can get the support needed from peers experiencing many of the same issues and concerns.
Again this year, Island Doctors partnered with COA to support Sunshine Center. Island Doctors has several locations in St. Augustine: Moultrie Road, Anastasia Island, and Palencia. They are a reliable and faithful partner of Council on Aging. “Many of our patients participate and enjoy quality programs provided by the COA,” said the team at Island Doctors.
The Sunshine Center is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and is licensed by AHCA #9081. For more information, please call Council on Aging at 904-209-3700.