“Whatever his day may be, we always know my brother is loved, well cared for, and a very important person to everyone at The Bridge,” says caregiver Patti Bower. “While my husband and I take on many responsibilities evenings and weekends, the adult day makes possible a full and happy life for everyone in our family.” Adult day services improve the quality of life for both the participants and their family caregivers.
“The Bridge,” Juneau’s only adult day program, serves seniors 60 years of age or older with physical disabilities such as hearing or vision loss, or recovery from a stroke, as well as persons of any age who have Alzheimer’s Disease or a related disorder. Many participants have a combination of physical and cognitive disabilities. “It is the staff’s job to ensure we stay focused on our mission and work to make each day the best day possible for the individuals who attend The Bridge,” explains Conor O’Dea, Bridge Program Supervisor. Through the use of therapeutic recreational activities, participants receive a balance of social, physical, emotional and cognitive stimulation. Some favorite activities include golf, bowling, music and dancing, sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, chair exercise and a wide variety of card games.
The trained staff prepares an individual plan for each participant and monitors their health and well-being. They provide reassurance to those with anxieties or confusion and assist with personal care during the day, including toileting, bathing, hair, and nail care. Hot, nutritious meals and transportation are also available.
The Bridge program provides meaningful relief for the family caregiver and the assurance that their loved one will be safe and well cared for during the day. “The Bridge has provided a stable, comfortable environment with caring staff who understand the unique and diverse needs of the people they serve,” explains Catherine Fritz. Catherine’s husband has attended the adult day program since 2011. “The Bridge has provided a lifeline to our family by allowing us to go to work and attend the University, knowing that the person we care about is in a safe and supportive place.”
Not only does the program help working sons or daughters caring for their parents; it supports elderly spouses who care for their husband or wife around the clock. The Bridge provides them with a break, time for themselves to go for a walk, run errands, or just to rest. Their lives can be totally consumed by taking care of their loved ones. It is common for the person with Alzheimer’s to latch on to their family caregiver and not leave them alone, so that break is essential for the health of the family member.
The program is located at 1803 Glacier Highway. The adult day center has a home-like environment with several rooms including a kitchen, a quiet room, sun porch, and even a hair salon. This allows the staff to meet the individuals’ needs at any point in time with small group activities and individualized attention.
The Bridge Adult Day Program is made possible by grants from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the City and Borough of Juneau, Medicaid waiver revenues, individual or family payments, and long term care insurance through the V.A. or private insurance companies. For further information or to set up a free visit, contact Conor O’Dea at 463-6171.
• Marianne Mills, M.S.W., is the Program Director of Southeast Senior Services (SESS) which offers home and community-based services for older Alaskans throughout the region. SESS is a part of Catholic Community Service and assists all persons regardless of their faith.