When the sun shines in Southeast for the first time in spring, everyone comes alive. Kids ride their bikes; families walk their dogs. Everyone feels a hum of excitement. The good mood was in no short supply at The Bridge Adult Day Program in Juneau recently, where clients enjoyed coffee in the sun while singing some songs that brought them joy: Christmas hymns. Christmas hymns in April on a sunny day may sound odd, but it keeps memories alive for the clients at The Bridge.
Catholic Community Service (CCS) has the great honor to perform corporal works of mercy on behalf of the Catholic church in Southeast Alaska (formerly the Diocese of Juneau). The Bridge Adult Day Program is a program of Southeast Senior Services, a division of Catholic Community Service, committed to promoting health, independence, and quality of life for all seniors. The Bridge is Juneau’s only Adult Day Program and since 1985 has proudly served those experiencing dementia and traumatic brain injury.
Adult daycare can give caregivers respite by providing a center where elderly parents can be taken for a couple of hours or the entire day and picked up later. The day programs include social activities, meals, exercise, and an enriched environment allowing for an engaging and supportive experience for elders.
According to The Bridge Adult Day Program manager Jennifer Garrison, the Juneau program brings a renewed enjoyment in life to clients, “Having something to look forward to makes a huge difference in their happiness. They enjoy getting to socialize with others and have fun together participating in various activities.”
Studies have shown that adult day services might delay or prevent an individual from moving to a longterm residential care facility. The service’s programs can encourage your loved one to spend time with others, and supervised activities might improve daily living skills. Even those living with dementia might enjoy music, simple activities, and being surrounded by friends.
The effects of The Bridge’s services do not go unnoticed by caregivers. “Caregivers tell us they see a physical and cognitive difference in their loved ones after they attend The Bridge. It has been stated that response time is improved in days directly following participation, and there is a noticeable change by the time they are due for their next visit. Caregivers have told us that on the days they are not scheduled to attend, participants are inquiring about when their next visit is,” said Adult Day Services coordinator Janece Cunningham.
The pandemic created many challenges for clients and their caregivers as services were suspended due to lockdown. “Due to the imposition of the virus, it has led to a decrease in cognition and physicality skills and attributes that are honed in on and encouraged to increase or be maintained to ensure a happy and independent life. Because of this decrease, caregivers are having to not only struggle with the work of everyday life; they now have the additional stress of caring for their loved ones on a day-in and day-out basis. All of the caregivers are grateful that they have the opportunity to love and care for their loved ones. This is displayed and imminent during pick up and drop off times. Still, it is also apparent that they are ready for a more available schedule of attendance for their loved ones,” said Cunningham.
The adult day service can give caregivers a muchneeded break, which can help them to care for their loved ones at home for longer. Caregivers also use the service to provide care for their loved ones to go to work, take care of personal business, or relax.
Some would think that working with the elderly who live with cognitive decline would be sad, but the staff at The Bridge live for the little victories.
“There is a client that makes attendance here at The Bridge once a week whose disease has progressed extensively since COVID-19. The client does not particularly care for activities and would much rather enjoy watching the channel flow in and out. One day, the client was in a wonderful mood and decided to have a dance with me. It was such a joy to see the smile on the client’s face and see them dancing and moving about, enjoying the music. Seeing the smile of the participants is exactly why I do this job,” said Cunningham.
As always, thank you so much for your support— your time as you volunteer, the donations you make to our charity, and your prayers.