Program at First United Methodist offers respite to those who care for Alzheimer's victims
Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor

January 9, 2004 -- The Family Life Center at First United Methodist Church opened its doors this morning to welcome participants of the "Terrific Tuesdays Club," a respite program created to provide caregivers of adults living with dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and brain injuries a day out while offering a day of socializing and fun activities for the patients.

"It's a much needed timeout for both," said Terrific Tuesday Coordinator Christine "Chris" Beach.

The church was recently awarded a Brookdale Foundation grant to implement the program, which is designed to provide a safe environment for adults dealing with memory loss to participate in social activities and provides a break for caregivers.

"I'm going to do my own shopping for the first time in months," said Dodie Johnson, who cares for her husband, Bob, 24 hours a day. "It's an around-the-clock job."

Bob Johnson, diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago, was one of three participants expected today.

Terrific Tuesdays volunteers have been trained in the basics of care, and will assist patients in a variety of activities such as bingo, crafts, gardening and various exercises to stimulate the mind, Beach explained.

Patients will also enjoy listening to music and watching old movies.

"We want people to feel comfortable and know that their loved one will be well taken care of," said Beach.

"Hopefully, as word gets out, more people will want to be a part of the program," said Arles Vandiver, who along with his wife, Joan, is a volunteer support group director.

"There are so many out there who could use this service," said Barbara Law, who helped care for her father and now volunteers to help others. "It's a win-win situation for everyone. Sulphur Springs needs this service."

"Terrific Tuesdays" operates from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and provides lunch, snacks, fun and games and lots of activities for participants, according to Beach.

Fees are based on a sliding scale, with a minimum of $5 and a maximum of $20, which is assessed on a monthly basis.

Those wishing to enroll a loved one in the program, become a volunteer or make a donation can contact Beach at 903-335-0152.

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