Let me tell you about Art’s journey. Art is my father-in-law. He is a very special person to our family. He has been a hard working farmer most of his life, Santa Claus at the mall for about sixteen years, and a grandfather to thirteen. He has a heart of gold, he loves people and his laugh is contagious. Children gravitate towards him because they feel the heart of Santa Claus within him.

About a year ago, Art all of a sudden wasn’t himself, he was lost, didn’t know the year, where he was, and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia. We realized for years prior he had been repeating himself a lot but didn’t realize that was the beginning of a crazy journey.

As I write this out of love for my father-in-law, I have tears. This hasn’t been a fun journey, but I want to share that with prayer and support of others this journey is turning out to be better than we had planned. I have had God’s guidance through rough times, and in turning to him, we were led to an amazing

Dr. and found a fantastic facility where he has not only improved a little, but he has purpose and feels he belongs. This place is St. John’s Day Center in Edwardsville.

We found out about St. John’s Day Center initially because this is where we met with a wonderful man from the Alzheimer’s Association, as we were looking for guidance and resources to help our loved one through this journey. The place appeared friendly, and seemed to really care for their patients. I also read the testimonials of families on their website, which were all very positive so we decided to try it out.

Although researchers are still researching and not fully sure what exactly happens in the brain when you socialize someone with these diseases, they are finding there are positive effects and socializing can have a beneficial impact on memory and cognitive function. This was one of the main reasons we brought my father-in-law to St. Johns. I have to say I realize not every case is the same, but it has tremendously helped him with memory and cognition. I feel it also improved the relationship he has with his wife because she was able to take weekly time for herself, which is necessary for the main caregiver in this disease.

So improving brain health and a break for his caregiver was our main reasons for sending him to adult day. What has happened on top of these is what makes this place so special. He is excited to go. He gets up in the morning, gets dressed, and he feels a sense of belonging and purpose. He is in the mildmoderate stage of the disease, but appears since going to the day center more mild. He has made friends. It doesn’t matter if he cannot remember their names, he said the other day, “Those people over there like me”. I believe starting him early in this journey reduces anxiety and depression. It is now a familiar place to him.

I trust these caregivers, they have become like family and I love the kindness and grace they extend daily to their patients. These ladies at St. John’s Day Center in Edwardsville are not only amazing caregivers but they are very wise in what an Alzheimer/dementia patient needs and I have found out they are a great resource to family members as questions do arise.

Early on, this disease tried to take away Art’s purpose and everything he worked for. With the help of St. Johns Day Center, he is still with purpose, has a story that continues on (and I hear it over and over…) and that warms our hearts..

In the end…..now I see it, this is where he was supposed to be.

Jen Rensing