by Mary Beth Smaha, Gateways Community Services
Claire is a quiet, 70-year-old Nashua resident with advanced Alzheimer’s disease who has been coming to Gateways Community Services’ Adult Day Service Program in Hudson since last April. Up until a year ago, Claire was driving and very independent; and then her family started noticing a rapid decline in her judgment and memory. For some with Alzheimer’s, the progression can be very slow, and for others, like Claire, there is a fast-paced deterioration in cognition and the ability to care for oneself.
As Claire’s conditions progressed, her family struggled between wanting her to stay in her own home where she was comfortable and familiar, and understanding that 24-7 independence, with no oversight, was becoming dangerous for her. The family decided that Claire would move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to live with her daughter. Claire’s daughter and son-in-law were committed to keeping Claire out of a nursing home, but were very concerned about her safety during the day when they were working. Having heard about Gateways’ adult day care program from the Alzheimer’s Association, they came to visit and knew the program would solve their dilemma. Claire is a wonderful addition to our Adult Day family!
Claire started the adult day care program at an opportune time because, sadly, Claire’s son-in-law’s father was diagnosed with dementia and also began living with the family. The strength of this family has been incredible as they have coped with two loved ones’ decline at the same time. Gateways has been at the ready to counsel and help as needed. Claire comes to the program five days a week where her general health is monitored. She is helped with exercise, social events, and activities of daily life — and her family is given peace of mind.
Gateways, in partnership with Alvirne High School, operates the Adult Day Service Program weekdays from 8 AM to 3:30 PM. The goal is to keep the frail and vulnerable out of expensive nursing homes for as long as possible. Many of the older adults we serve have chronic disabilities, including strokes, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and dementia. In 2012, 67 elders were enrolled in the program, and the only other adult day care service in the Nashua area shut down. Gateways immediately opened its doors to as many of that program’s participants as possible, which ensured that these seniors had continued access to a full-time nurse, hot breakfast and lunch, companionship, and engaging activities. Our program has grown to meet the needs of these additional participants. As attendance rises, so do requests for scholarship assistance to reduce the hourly rate cost to participants.
Note: Low-income Nashua-area residents enrolled the Gateways Community Services Adult Day Service Program receive support from United Way of Greater Nashua’s Community Impact Fund. Every 8 seconds another Baby Boomer turns 65, which increases the need for specialized services for both participants and caregivers. Please know that supporting United Way of Greater Nashua makes a huge difference for those who attend Gateways’ Adult Day Service Program.