MELBOURNE, Fla. – It’s all fun and games at the Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation.
The award-winning adult daycare program gives caregivers a bit of respite. And for those who take care of our loved ones — it’s a job of passion.
Every weekday morning a stream of buses pulls up under the carport at the Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation in Melbourne. The staff helps everyone make their way to Joe’s Club, an adult daycare program for people who can’t safely be left at home. Most have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“It’s always a party,” said Timothy Timmermann, Executive Director of the Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation, as about 60 clients settled in with morning coffee and doughnuts. “Their day is planned from the moment they get here until the moment they leave.”
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Elizabeth Burbeck and Christy Goldsmith coordinate the daily activities. The two get the day started with a boot camp-style cadence to get everyone moving.
“Left, right. left, right,” the group chants. “We are Joe’s Club. Mighty, mighty Joe’s Club,” they continue, as everyone stomps their feet and sings along.
“What makes us special?” Timmermann asks. “So many daycares, they offer one or two activities and they watch a lot of TV and sit in recliners. You won’t see that here.”
In fact, Timmermann told News 6 the hope is that they’ve provided such a busy day that the clients go home tired and ready for bed.
“We want them to age with dignity. We want them home and we want them to go home tired. That’s what the caregivers want. They want mom or dad to eat, go right to sleep, and not be a wanderer,” Timmerman said.
And Joe’s Club has earned a reputation for first-class care.
“This is a world-renowned location,” Timmermann said. ‘We have people from London that just flew in a couple of months ago to view us. We won the most innovative daycare award in 2017. Our transportation is known as the best autonomous transportation in the country. We’ve won awards for that.”
According to the Brevard Commission on Aging, there are an estimated 20,000 Alzheimer’s cases in Brevard County.
“It’s a disease,” Timmermann said. “If it was a broken arm, a broken arm heals. For Alzheimer’s there’s no prevention, there’s no treatment, there’s no cure. The best we can do is try to slow the progression.”
They do that by providing physical and mental exercise throughout the day.
“Look at the smiles,” Burbeck said, looking out over the room. “It’s hard for me to explain how much I really enjoy being in this line of work. I wouldn’t pick another profession. You get so much out of it.”
Goldsmith agrees. After a career in law enforcement, she couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. “I go to work every day and say to myself, cool, what do we get to do today?”
Cherylann Cronin is the lead case manager. Her job takes her into clients’ homes as part of in-home services. “We truly become part of their family. It’s imperative that our families know that they are not walking this journey alone.”
The Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation offers a range of other support services, including food and utility assistance for caregivers, transportation and emergency assistance.
Timmermann said one of the biggest benefits of adult daycare over other senior living solutions is that it can be a very cost-effective way to get your loved one the care they need. The average cost per day is around $63, depending on the duration of the individual’s stay at the daycare center but no one is turned away. The nonprofit offers assistance from its scholarship fund.
“We don’t say no to anyone,” Timmermann said. “If you have Alzheimer’s, you need help, we’re going to figure it out.”
The Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation has locations in Melbourne, Titusville and Micco. For more information visit brevardalz.org.