A few years ago, Tim and Sandy discovered Old Friends Club while looking for an appropriate care option for Sandy, who had been diagnosed with dementia. They initially thought that an in-home caregiver would be good, but then went on to check out the day-stay respite option that Old Friends Club had to offer.
The first time they went to check out the Club, a fifteen-minute drive from their home, Tim wasn’t sure it was the right fit. The staff running the program and the other Members were welcoming, but Tim and Sandy just weren’t prepared for that step, yet. It can be hard to reach out for help, or admit that a disease is advancing. Sometimes a spouse is reluctant to relinquish what they believe is their sole responsibility. Yet these diseases are progressive, and the stress and isolation can take a toll on both partners.
A few months went by, and they decided to try the club again. This time they knew it was a good fit. Sandy began to socialize and make new friends around engaging activities two days each week, and Tim was able to have some time so he could take care of himself, too.
Sandy was involved in many activities including card games, art projects, word games, and singing. Volunteers would come to share the gift of music -- kids showing off their skills on the violin, and talented musicians who added to the variety, like bluegrass on the banjo or oldies on the guitar. The live music was always a favorite. Sandy had quite a bit to do there, and sometimes Tim would come in early to join in on the activities. Sandy always got a kick out of Tim’s participation, especially when he would join in for a round of bowling.
The staff and volunteers were friendly and helpful, Tim said. “Maddie was so sweet to Sandy. I couldn’t believe it. She was a nice, nice young lady. Eliza and Jeff were also great with her.”
Sandy attended Old Friends Club gatherings for two years. Tim said it was “time well spent. It really was.” It got her out two times a week and broke up their routine a bit. Tim also got a break. Being a caregiver is a challenging job in many ways and being able to have that respite option is necessary and important. To take care of someone else well, you must care for yourself first.
The Club was also a nice springboard into the next step for Sandy, which was helpful as she transitioned into the adult family home where she currently resides. She had learned she could trust others to help her, and that Tim would still be there for her.
Tim and Sandy will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year in November. They are very much in love, and Tim looks forward to visiting with Sandy every week. He absolutely loves her smile and making her laugh.
Tim hopes to volunteer with the Club one day. “I don’t know what I would’ve done without the Old Friends Club,” he says, “It was a blessing for us.”