By Nita Wilkinson
Almost everyone looks forward to the "golden years." Less stress. Manage your own time. Enjoy the slower paced life doing the things of which you've always dreamed.
It works that way for many of us. But others face the challenges of a debilitating illness like Alzheimer’s disease. They and learn new levels of stress. Their time is not their own and chaos can consume them. For those folks, the “golden years” are much more bleak than anticipated.
In the late 1980’s, Sam and Betty Metz were a typical couple who could see their golden years on the horizon. But their dreams of sharing a leisurely retirement together were over before they began, as Sam was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at just 59 years old. As the disease progressed, Sam began wandering, adding another level of stress to Betty’s day. This made it difficult for Betty to care for him by herself.
Before Sam’s disease, Betty was very active in her church. She had to stop going to her ladies' group when Sam’s wandering became a problem. Even with the help of church family, Betty often felt isolated and exhausted. Her children watched the physical and emotional stress takes its toll on her.
After a time, a family friend suggested the DayBreak program at Green Hills Community and Betty found that she could afford to bring him one day a week. That provided a much needed respite for her and an opportunity for Sam to get out and do some different activities with new people. Even with one day, free Betty was still having a difficult time getting out to do those small errands like grocery shopping and haircuts. And she was still unable to get back to her church meetings.
Sharon Showalter, the DayBreak director at that time, was instrumental in getting funding from the United Way to support families with limited resources but needed the service of DayBreak. She immediately saw how much the Metz family would benefit from this grant and invited Betty to bring Sam two more days a week. This was such a blessing to Betty and the entire Metz family.
“The United Way’s support of the DayBreak program gave my Mom freedom, said Phyllis Campbell, San and Betty's daugther. "She was free to go to the grocery store, get her hair done once again and even take a nap without worrying about Dad’s safety. And best of all she rejoined her ladies group at church, which was so important to her emotional well being. She did miss doing the things she and Dad used to do together, but she looked and acted like my Mom again. Our whole family is grateful to DayBreak and United Way for how it changed life for both of our parents.”
In fact, Phyllis, was so inspired by the DayBreak program that she chose to get a job at Green Hills while Sam was still in DayBreak, 25 years ago. After five years in the care center, she took the first opening available in DayBreak after her Dad left, doing activities with the clients. 20 years later, she is still there, leading the activities, and ontinuing the legacy of care and compassion that her family received for her Dad!
Thanks to YOUR United Way gift, Green Hills can offer nearly 600 days of service to those with limited income. Because of your generosity families like the Metz’s get back their self-worth and their physical health. You are making a difference for families caring for an aging loved one every day!