January 13, 2018
The day I learned about the Adult Day Program at That Place You Know, LLC in Hollis, NH, was the day I received an answer to the challenge of caring for my mom, Joan, who had been diagnosed with Dementia just a few weeks before. My mom began spending her days at TPYK with Krissy Wuerdeman and her team & family in July 2017. I spent the six months prior to this attending the Caregiver Support Group meetings and workshop series that Krissy offers to the local community to learn more about how Validation can help Adults with dementia live with purpose and compassion. This method of caregiving is not easy, and not perfect, but learning Validation and having my mom participate in this program has made the road travelled by my family have fewer frost heaves and potholes.
The first day my mom attended the Day Program at TPYK, she walked to my car at the end of the day, and she felt purposeful. She felt as if she had made a contribution back to others, something she had taken great pride in doing her entire life. She simply engaged in folding baby clothes provided by the Stork Project for new moms in need, but she was thrilled! She was giving back. Over the next few months, my mom engaged her old sewing skills to create a quilt. When TPYK was honored with the Silver Sponsor role for our local Old Home Days celebration, more of my mom’s talents were put to work baking her favorite recipes to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. My mom and her new friends at TPYK enjoyed collaborating as they created baked goodies with their family recipes.
At TPYK, my mom sang songs loud and with great joy! She danced and moved with her friends. Mom engaged in meaningful Art Therapy. She created gifts for our family that she proudly presented and we displayed in our home. My mom had purpose each day she spent at TPYK. She had new friends who are in the same “place” in life that she is. They never judged. They encouraged, supported and cared about each other. My mom spent her days caring about her friends and her caregivers. She shared herself and her life’s passions in a new and meaningful way. She shared a sense of camaraderie with this “family of elders”. Sharing wisdom, sharing understanding without words when sadness or difficulties were encountered, sharing joy in a “job well done” cooking, creating or singing.
TPYK became my mom’s home even more than my family’s home became her home when she moved in with us last year. At TPYK, my mom got to watch the birds – a favorite pastime her entire life. She got to enjoy her morning tea watching the birds eat outside of the farmhouse windows. Mom had a routine, and she had a role in this home and with this family at TPYK. Mom had days filled with Thoughtfulness, Peacefulness, Youthful Energy and Kindness at TPYK.
My mom (and I) benefitted from the Validation method with Krissy Wuerdeman. Mom reviewed her life experiences one-on-one with Krissy, and as part of her TPYK Validation family. Sharing stories and the importance of the good, the bad, and the ugly and especially the joy of life lived. My mom led Tai Chi with her friends at TPYK. She got this beautiful group up and moving and flowing with purpose and the importance of good breath. She voiced the goodness of particular foods and encouraged everyone to try the new tastes – she even tried new things herself!! She ate her favorites – Raspberry tea, Ice Cream, Tapioca (who remembered how yummy this treat ever was!), soup, quiche, she even liked kielbasa when she was served! The unique home setting of TPYK gave my Mom her sense of home and belonging.
The caregiver support provided with this Adult Day Program is knowledgeable, and filled with love and a passion for caring for elders and all their wisdom, with dignity. This caregiver support has been and continues to be beyond my wildest imagination. I learned in the process of living with the challenges of dementia and “losing” my Mom, that I actually found her and reviewed our family story both with my family of origin and with my extended family. I am not a perfect caregiver, and experience frustration on a daily basis. I have perfection in the love my mom can see in me by caring for her (even though she knows it is not what she wanted for me to have to do). I learned daily how to make my mom’s end of life journey peaceful, which was my ultimate goal. The Wuerdemans offer more than a place for Adults with Memory Impairment to spend their days. TPYK offers wisdom, support, love and especially purpose. These things make the challenges of memory loss a little less “taxing”, a little less “burdensome”, and a lot more joyful. The New England “frost heaves” and “potholes” of memory loss are filled with love at TPYK. Oh the stories my mom could share and the wisdom she has from living her life are recognized every day at TPYK.
Thank you Krissy Wuerdeman and your family, Don, Danielle, Robert, and your wonderful assistant Elizabeth. There are not words to express the gratitude I have for you and the program you offer in our community. There needs to be more of this and less of the other “memory care” in our country!