Taking a Daybreak at Deerfield
by Sherrie Norris
Their combined experiences of helping to care for their mother during her 10-year illness -- and their compassion for others in the caregiving role -- have brought them full circle as they prepare to take the leadership reins of a local respite program.
Henderson and Teague have recently agreed to coordinate Day Break at Deerfield, a one day per week social program for those with early memory loss.
It's a twofold opportunity, the duo agrees, as it brings together -- for a few hours each week -- those on similar cognitive levels who are dealing with early memory deficit, while giving their in-home caregivers a much-needed break.
Earlier organized under the auspices of the High Country Caregiver Foundation, one of many programs of the N.C. High Country Council of Governments, the program is hosted by Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living in Boone each Tuesday.
Daybreak is designed for those individuals who do not require physical care with their activities of daily living and are still able to participate in age-appropriate activities that stimulate and promote healthy cognitive functioning.
According to Brenda Reece, director of the High Country Caregiver Foundation, Day Break offers supervision and encouragement to those who are struggling with early memory loss.
"Participants may be frail, but they must be physically stable and not in need of any hands-on personal care," she said.
All requests for admission into the program are considered on a case-by-case basis, Reece said. Space is limited, but can accommodate 10 participants per session.
Henderson and Teague are greatly anticipating their new, shared role with Daybreak, adding that they are looking forward to helping ease the load for others.
"We know what it's like," Teague said.
Their mother, the late Anna Hayes, had "a long, hard 10 years before she died," Henderson said. "It started out vascular, with ministrokes, and eventually became worse."
The progression was slow, according to the two, with each stage a bit more agonizing for their mother than the last.
"We kept her at home as long as we could," Teague said. "We still worked and had daytime help, but it finally got to the point that we had to bring her to Deerfield's Horizon Unit, for those with dementia. Even then, we were with her every day."
She was a resident there for four years before her death, one year ago.
"The staff took such good care of her, and at the end, Medi-Home Hospice came in to help us all through her final days," Teague said. "We can't say enough about the services and support we received."
Realizing the importance of that type of support, the sisters said they couldn't just walk away and leave it all behind.
They eventually became facilitators of the family caregiver support group, which also meets at Deerfield each month, and now, they are extending themselves into a new role with Daybreak.
"We want to do everything we can to help family members through this trying time of their lives," Teague said. "Because we've been there and we have experienced the same things that they are going through right now. Hopefully, we can help ease their load, for just a little while, anyway."
The sisters are "natural-born caregivers," Reece said, as both are wives, mothers, grandmothers and are retired from the local school system.
"Day Break provides stimulating activities and opportunities for socialization for those with memory loss, while providing a much-needed and very well-deserved break to their caregivers," Reece said. "It's a win-win situation for everyone involved."