Renewing enthusiasm for life

Senior news

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Shortly after Elizabeth's husband passed away, she moved to Juneau to live with her son and daughter-in-law. At that time, Elizabeth was not in good health, physically or emotionally. She was depressed and afraid to be by herslef, yet her son Bill and his wife needed to go to work during the week, leaving her alone all day. Bill turned to his friend Dr. Susan Hunter-Joerns for help regarding his mom, who was weak, underweight, and in a wheelchair. Dr. Hunter-Joerns wrote a prescription which changed their lives.

The prescription was for Elizabeth to attend the Bridge Adult Day Program. Althrough at first she resisted going, now Elizabeth says, "I don't like the weekends because the Bridge isn't open!" She has a lot of fun each day at the program through which she has developed a network of friends, both clients and staff. Since joining the adult day program, Elizabeth is happier, more confident, more independent, has gained weight, and is no longer in a wheelchair.

"The Bridge is one of the greatest factors in her getting back on her feet," explains son Bill.

Open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Bridge features a variety of recreational and therapeutic activities, personal care and health services, as well as meals and favorite foods, all designed to renew one's enthusiasm for life. The program is primarily for persons over the age of 60 who would benefit from social interaction with others. While some of the participants, such as Elizabeth, live with their son or daughter, other participants live in an assisted living home, while still others live in their own homes, either alone or with their spouses.

Adult day services are especially designed for seniors who are 1) physically frail but mentally alert; 2) those with special medical needs such as diabetes, hypertension and post-stroke disabilities; 3) those with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders.

In addition to the many benefits for program participants, the Bridge offers an opportunity for important respite time for family caregivers. Throughout the day, family members can rest assured that their loved one is cared for in a stimulating and supportive environment.

Upon admission to the program, a rehabilitation care plan is developed which uniquely fits the needs of each participant.

Recently the Bridge Adult Day Program made some changes in order to better meet the needs of families. In addition to offering expanded hours, the Bridge added: 1) expanded meal service, which includes a light breakfast, a nutritious lunch and snacks; 2) an expanded variety of therapeutic activities, ranging from exercises that promote balance and develop large muscle groups to games that enhance memory skills and offer reminiscence of fond memories; 3) personal care services, including hair care, hand massages, nail care, and showering; and 4) health supervision by Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Merritt Hogan who offers blood pressure checks, medication monitoring, a foot clinic, and help with diabetic compliance.

The Bridge Adult Day Program currently serves 20 senior citizens. "We always welcome new participants," explains Heidi Passer, recreational therapist and Bridge Program supervisor. "Folks can try one or two days a week to see how they like it."

Persons interested in more information about the Bridge can reach Heidi at 586-4852.

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