For Christa Giddens and her sisters, it’s a godsend.
For Dave Woodman, the value he receives is off the charts.
Giddens’s father, Graham Loughead, and Woodman’s daughter, Kirstin, are both clients of the VON’s Adult Day Program in Truro, a service offered to people dealing with varying degrees of mental or physical incapacities.
Some of the younger clients have autism or Down syndrome while older clients may have suffered from a stroke or are living with such afflictions as Parkinsons or multiple sclerosis. And there are some, such as Loughead, who are dealing with a form of dementia
“The VON and the day program has just been a lifesaver for all of us,” Giddens said. “I just don’t know what we would do without them.”
Although the VON’s home care services are generally recognized throughout the community, the assistance offered by the Adult Day Program is a lesser known success, said coordinator Monique Natividad.
“We want to showcase that it’s not all about seniors, that we have a vibrant, younger group that also comes to the day program,” she said. “We also have quite a few clients that are quite a bit younger, who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, who are accessing the services and, specifically, coming to the Adult Day Program.”
The program caters to those 19 and over and is offered three days a week in Truro, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and one day each in Tatamagouche and Indian Brook. Cost to participate is $25 per day and there is a waiting list for future clients.
Most of the clients are generally housebound and participation in the program offers them an opportunity for social interaction and assistance with their daily living needs, Natividad said.
For the caregivers and family members it offers a bit of respite for their own interests, while knowing that their loved one is in a warm, comfortable and safe environment.
“Meaningful activity is kind of the focus. It’s not a babysitting service. We’re not here just to keep people busy,” Natividad said. “We’re here to provide a day full of meaningful activity, which means that folks are taking part in activities that are going to enhance their lives.”
The group generally starts days by discussing current events in the local newspaper. Clients assist with meal preparation and get involved in a variety of hands-on activities. And, in Truro at least, each day’s session concludes with a group sing-along around the piano.
Giddens’s father started attending after he developed vascular dementia about a year ago. Although his memory and cognitive abilities are intact, the dementia severely limits his ability to form words and converse with others.
After his best friend, and then his wife of 50 years passed away, Loughead had little else to look forward to until his daughters connected him with the program.
“They have really filled such a huge gap in his life,” Giddens said, of staff and clients alike.
“We would never have been able to keep him in his home if it wasn’t for them.”
Woodman, whose daughter has cerebral palsy, said the program has also opened up new avenues in her life and there isn’t “a chart big enough” to rate the program’s value.
“The social aspect that they have, and which she needs, makes a huge difference.”