Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2017 12:00 am
Nan Poplin’s 90-year-old mother-in-law who walks with a cane and is blind and deaf has been living with Poplin and her husband Roger for the past nine years.
For four days each week, Poplin takes her mother-in-law to the Adult Day Center on Henry Street in Greensboro.
“She loves going and has made lots of friends and takes part in many experiences that stimulate her brain,” Poplin said. A good friend at the center helps her play Bingo.
The Adult Day Center gives the Poplins a break from being caregivers. She highly recommends this opportunity to others in our community with similar life circumstances.
Adult Center for Enrichment, a nonprofit in Guilford County, offers the Adult Day Center from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and part-time respite programs at three other locations.
ACE also offers Caregiver Education and WellSpring Home Care. The mission of ACE is to enrich the lives of frail and impaired adults, their families and the community through specialized adult day services, respite care, education and support.
The vision of ACE is to be a trusted provider on the forefront of accessible community based care, education and support for adults in need and their caregivers.
The number of people older than 65 is growing and will soon be greater than the number of people under 18, said Susan Cox, board chairwoman, active at ACE for six years.
“We must support the groups that provide assistance for the elderly as the need grows,” she said.
Many families caring for a loved one with a chronic illness are baffled and lonely, said Anita Brock-Carter, program director at the Adult Day Center and assistant executive director of ACE.
“Our culture teaches us to just go it alone when we have a family member with special needs, and this can be devastating for caregivers and for their loved ones,” Carter said.
The staff and volunteers are trained to examine the person’s limitations and find ways to help each person feel successful.
“We help caregivers get over the barrier to accept help, and then they can see what is happening a bit more clearly,” Carter said.
“The center is a home away from home,” said Jonathan Stewart, a caregiver for his wife, Phyllis. When, as a caregiver, he runs errands or takes care of necessary business, Stewart said he feels good not only about the staff and organized activities.
“I was not aware of adult care centers or their function until after my wife became ill four years ago,” Stewart said. “ACE makes life just as close to normal under the circumstances.”
The services available are for adults 21 years of age or older in need of socialization in a safe, secure setting. Special consideration is given to those between the ages of 18 to 21 whose needs may be met in an adult-day program setting. Decisions regarding acceptance into the center are determined on an individual basis.
The Adult Day Centers and Group Respite Programs may serve semi-ambulatory participants, but will not enroll adults that are non-ambulatory.
“Providing care for a loved one with a chronic illness takes its toll emotionally, physically, economically, spiritually and psychologically,” said Jodi Kolada, director of caregiver Education at ACE.
The ACE Caregiver Education program helps people become better caregivers and learn about community resources.
“Caregivers learn they are not alone on their journey,” Kolada said recently.
The caregiver retreats and workshops offer time to rejuvenate and relax.
“Caregivers often share that they leave refreshed and more able to return to the responsibilities of caregiving,” Kolada said.
Poplin said that the Caregiver Education has been “absolutely wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.”
She has participated in activities such as Tai Chi on the hill at Healing Ground Retreat Center and in a painting class. This kind of self-care allows she and her husband to be the caregivers they want to be for their family member.
It only took one time for Barbara James to get hooked on volunteering at the Adult Day Center. She’s been involved for more than 10 years and has served on the board.
Several opportunities are designed to fit the needs of volunteers — these include talking with participants, helping out on field trips, leading activities, playing music for the participants or doing pet therapy.
“I’ve seen ACE make a huge difference for struggling families,” said Chris Musselwhite, ACE board member for the past two years.
Ruth D. Anderson is executive director of The Servant Leadership School of Greensboro and member of The Guilford Nonprofit Consortium.