My husband’s health was changing, and it started affecting his behavior. We have a good neighbor, Bill Lindsey, who suggested that we might consider St. John’s Community Care to help us with our situation. Of course, I didn’t think it was that bad, and I knew I wanted to continue to care for my husband at home. We had to visit the VA at Jefferson Barracks for an appointment. That’s where we met with a social worker. She proceeded to inform me that she felt Wayne’s sight and hearing impairments, compounded with his dementia, were causing him to become more isolated and reclusive. She suggested we needed outside help and that we should consider an elder daycare. I knew that was going to be expensive, but she explained to me that the VA would help provide monetary support if he qualified.
Remembering Bill Lindsey’s recommendation, our next stop was to tour St. John’s Adult Day Program. Wayne really liked it from the start! He agreed to give it a try. If you ever had kids, that got excited for the first day of school well, that was what it was like for Wayne. The first day we got ready to come to St. John’s he was eager to look good and put on his best outfit, and then he could not wait to get there to see everyone! What a relief it was for me to see him change from his quiet self in his isolated world into someone who felt that he had a place to be and a purpose. It was a meaningful experience for him AND me. It was literally like watching him go from the darkness to daylight!! It was an emotional day to say the least for us both.
Wayne attends 3 days a week now but really wants to come 5 days!! I wish we could figure out how to make that happen financially. The other days he is at home, he regresses into his isolation. Some of his past times like television and reading are no longer options with his sight and hearing impairments. The only thing I can tell him to make him feel better is that he is going to St. John’s the next day.
Wayne is full of compassion himself and is a very caring person. He enjoys riding the bus with his service dog Buddy to St. John’s. He is so proud of that pup and Buddy loves all the attention and petting he gets from the other participants in the program. He also makes sure that the ladies in the group are cared for. If someone is cold he will find them a sweater or he might wrap an arm around a shoulder or sit near to them to “warm” them up. He has so much love to give and St. John’s allows him to share that with others.
I know they play lots of fun games and do activities to help stimulate his mind. As a reward, they offer small prizes for a few of the games. Well, Wayne and I decided on a shopping trip that we would pick up a few small things to donate for prizes. Well… lo and behold the next time they played games Wayne was a winner!! He proudly explained to me on the way home, while showcasing the stuffed animal that he won, that he had picked it out to give to our grandbaby… it was the same toy he had picked out and we purchased a few days earlier at the store. My heart was a little saddened that he didn’t remember we had bought that item. But he was so joyful about winning it, I had to laugh and agree that it was a certainly a cute prize!
I really feel that not only does St. John’s care for Wayne but also for me as a caregiver. I recently started attending the support group that meets monthly and plan to attend other informational events in the coming months. While Wayne is enjoying all of his friends at St. John’s, I am able to go about my day and get things accomplished for both of us. Then sometimes I just take a break and do something for myself.
Wayne has always had an interest in preparing food and cooking and has even won a county-wide cooking contest a few years ago. He knows a good meal when he eats one! He enjoys the lunches with his friends and his only wish is that the portions served were larger… lol!
I noticed that St. John’s is always celebrating someone or something, I asked if I could bring a treat for Wayne’s birthday. Stacey told me that was o.k. and so off I went to get some cupcakes. I know how much Wayne likes to share things and have fun, so I got cupcakes with Happy Birthday rings on each of the treats so Wayne could pass them out to all his friends to enjoy wearing the rings for fun during the celebration. He really enjoyed all the attention that day, but again, I think enjoyed the opportunity to give something to his new friends a little bit more.
I can’t say enough about the professional staff and aides that help Wayne and me. They all go above and beyond to make our day!