Sunny Seniors provides respite
by Anne Hart Preus
Aug 12, 2014 | 1399 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For individuals who have been diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, there is a place to engage in stimulating activities, to do art activities, and to participate in sing- a -longs.

For their caregivers, Sunny Seniors offers respite while providing a safe, stimulating environment for persons with dementia.

Caring for a person with Alzheimer's can be challenging and at times, overwhelming.

Sunny Seniors meets on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church in Cleveland.

Participants are asked to bring $10 per day to cover the cost of snacks, drinks, and craft supplies.

They should also bring a sandwich for lunch. Breakfast snacks, a homemade dessert and beverages are provided.

The program is designed: to assist those with memory loss to; remain in their own homes and avoid premature institutionalization; to restore, maintain, and promote a person's maximum level of functional independence for as long as possible; to foster socialization and peer interaction through therapeutic activities and lots of humor; and to offer respite and support to primary caregivers.

Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Some of the warning signs of Alzheimer's are: memory loss that disrupts daily life; challenges in planning or solving problems; difficulty completing familiar tasks; and confusion with time or place.

More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease.

This program started five years ago by Diane Arnold and Jenna Simpson who obtained funding from the State and when that funding was no longer available, they asked the Episcopal priest at that time for assistance.

They obtained a tax- exempt status and put a board of directors in place.

The Episcopal church provided a place to meet without charge.

Mollie Rushing provides art activities for the participants and Becky Foster plays the piano for the sing-a-long sessions.

Staff members include Annie Mitchell, Kay Daugherty and Carolyn Via.

“When I started, I did it for the caregivers to offer them a break, but I absolutely adore the clients. If we can make them smile and happy and make them interact, it is the grandest thing," said Carolyn Via, co-director.

"When clients come, we have a devotional time and then we visit over refreshments. We then have our activities like music, exercise, and art, then lunch and crossword puzzles or other fun things," said Via.

“I'll be here as long as I can,” she said. “We have a good team. It is a great feeling to know we have given a caregiver a small break. One caregiver came to pick up his wife and said he had read a book — something he had not done in a long time because his wife required constant attention.

"We have clients with all stages of the disease," says Via.

According to Emory University's Disease Center, families often say the activities, structure, and the socialization offered in adult day programs stimulate the person with Alzheimer's disease in a very positive way.

Caregivers also report benefits to themselves when they are able to engage in activities other than care giving.

They can use the time to run errands, do household chores, go to their own medical appointments, get exercise, relax, and pursue numerous other activities.

For more information, to register a loved one, or to make a donation, contact Daugherty at 662-719-9911 or Via at 662-719-7048.

Donations can be mailed to Sunny Seniors 107 S. Victoria, Cleveland, MS 38732.

The program relies on donations and funds raised at the annual Chef's Benefit Dinner in the spring.