“Every Tuesday, there’s a knock on the door. Alan comes in and my father’s face lights up. He always brings a little something: a piece of pastry, an old movie to watch. But his biggest gift is time. My dad loves to talk to people. But he can’t get out much anymore. A little more than a year ago, he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and Alzheimer’s disease. One keeps him tied to an oxygen tank. The other is slowly robbing him of his memory. Walking is painful and difficult for him, because of leg and knee injuries he suffered while fighting in World War II. He can’t leave the house by himself, and he can’t be left alone. Left to himself, he would remove the oxygen tube – he can’t remember why he needs it. Or he might put the kettle on the stove, then leave it to boil dry while he takes a nap. Now he stays at home with my mother. They are 89 and 90 years old. They’ve been married for more than 60 years. Many of their friends have moved; many have passed away. Alan brings the world to my father. For three hours a week, he sits and talks. Sometimes they watch a movie together, or look at photographs or play cards. Alan doesn’t care that my dad doesn’t know what day it is, or what season, or whether he repeats himself. He’s a friend whose conversation keeps my dad’s mind active, whose interest in my dad’s stories makes him smile.
And Alan gives the world back to my mother. She’s the one taking care of my dad every day and sometimes she just needs a break. When Alan comes over, she can go out and visit a friend. Sometimes the biggest luxury is to be able to run to the grocery store. For three hours, she has her life back. It’s just three hours every week, but the EAC Senior Respite program makes a world of difference to the people who need it.”
EAC’s Senior Respite Program provides In-Home Caregiver Services. We recognizes that persons caring for frail elderly family members also need care. Many caregivers know little relief from the ongoing care of loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, dementia or other incapacitating illnesses. By providing families with a Companion, caregivers can take a short break from caregiving duties, giving them the opportunity to renew their energy and take care of themselves. Similarly, a visit from someone other than the caregiver often stimulates the frail older adult.
EAC Companions receive intensive initial and in-service training, and many volunteers develop close, long term relationships with program clients. This program has shown to be an important support for families, allowing them to maintain their family members at home longer, resulting in significant savings to families and taxpayers.
The program offers a free in-home nurse’s assessment, an affordable weekly visit from a caring companion; hourly rate between $5-12 per hour that is determined by the older adult’s monthly income.