NANAIMO — Keith Arnold strolls into a Nanaimo-based dementia care facility adult day program Tuesday morning alongside his wife, both sporting broad smiles.
Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, has taken its toll on the 84-year-old Nanaimo man and his wife Sally, who was diagnosed six years ago.
However, the couple has received critical assistance over the past year-and-a-half, thanks to the Nanaimo Travellers Lodge Society, which provides three adult day programs for elders battling dementia at the newly opened Eden Gardens on Northfield Rd.
Arnold, who has out-of-town family, told NanaimoNewsNOW he “can't put into words” the impact the programs have had on their lives.
“It allows me to do the cleaning, laundry, maintenance of the house. I'm able to go out and do the grocery shopping and whatever else we need.”
Arnold said he's constantly challenged by his wife's condition, but noted he's “learning and adapting” daily to her needs.
About 20 seniors with dementia are currently enrolled in the three programs, which involve supervised social activities, crafts, games and bathing. Program participants gain entry after receiving a referral from Island Health.
“She's able to have a day out and speak to so many friends she's made here, it helps on both sides,” Arnold said.
Sally, 84, told NanaimoNewsNOW she enjoys visiting Eden Gardens three times a week. She said the staff pay close attention to her needs.
“They're absolutely great, because they're all interested. I was a little bit shy when I came, I'm not now, I feel really happy about it.”
Day program coordinator Marybeth Wells said it's important to keep their clients engaged mentally and physically in a structured environment.
She said the value of their adult day programs is abundantly clear.
“It's extremely important,” Wells said. “From what I hear from families is they basically couldn't survive without it. It gives them a few hours break because they're caring for these individuals with dementia 24/7.”
The subsidized program costs $6 a day per participant, which covers the cost of lunch, according to Wells
The program is typically fully subscribed.
Volunteers to fill a range of positions at Eden Gardens are being sought. Further information is available by emailing Carolina Ponsford at [email protected]
On Twitter: @repoterholmes