Officials: Perspectives numbers drop

ESCANABA – Perspectives Adult Care Center, a respite care facility in Escanaba, has room available for new clientele following a recent drop in the number of those served by the program.

Perspectives mainly serves clients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to Perspectives Adult Care Center director Randy Daigneault. The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and located in the Penstar Building at 1401 N. 26th St., Suite 118, Escanaba.

“Basically we are a respite care facility. We provide a daily break for individuals who are caregivers for their spouses or for their parents, whatever the situation may be,” he explained.

Though their focus is on serving those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, additional clientele include those who may live alone and are in search of some companionship during the day and those with developmental disabilities, said Daigneault.

“We never refuse anybody unless, of course, sometimes a situation just doesn’t work out where that person is comfortable coming and doesn’t want to be here,” he said. “We just have to try and figure out something else for the family member who’s taking care of their spouse or loved one with the dementia.”

Currently Perspectives has approximately 17 clientele, a decline from the previous number of people receiving their services.

“We just lost … six people in the last two months here,” said Daigneault. “We were averaging 10 to 15 people a day depending on which day of the week it was. We’re probably down to … six to eight maybe some days. So we have room available.”

A loss of one person or even a couple people is normal, but six is unusual, he added.

“It’s very unusual for us. Unfortunately two ladies fell and broke their hips, so they’ll be out indefinitely. Then what normally happens is unfortunately some people who are caring for their loved ones or their parents just have to move them on to a different type of living situation, so once they move into a nursing home, they don’t come anymore. It’s too difficult for them to continue coming here,” he said.

Daigneault also thinks another reason for a decline in numbers is because of the time of the year, since in the winter many may not want to go out if they don’t have to. However, he noted it’s been difficult to get the word out about Perspectives and the services it provides its clientele.

“There still seems to be some type of … stigma attached to (it),” he said. “People are very uncomfortable talking about Alzheimer’s disease and bringing their folks, their loved ones, into the program.”

Throughout the day, clients participate in many different activities at Perspectives, including creating table top centerpieces, placemats, bookmarks, and note pads, all made of donated and recycled greeting cards and distributed throughout the community.

“We try to give back to the community as much as we can, just because the community of Delta County helps us out so much,” he said.

Perspectives participants have also baked cookies for the American Red Cross blood drive and put inserts into church bulletins for local churches.

Daigneault said the staff tries to have clients do meaningful activities, noting everyone helps out to the degree of which they can.

“As the disease progresses, sometimes they’re not able to do some certain things anymore … so we have to adapt to everybody’s disease and where they’re at with their disease,” he said.

Staff also take participants out for walks, to the DNR Pocket Park for fishing, and grow vegetables in raised garden beds donated to them from Lakestate Industries. They started a program two years ago where clientele go to the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center when there’s an art exhibit on display and create art projects while there.

Local musicians also routinely visit Perspectives to provide musical entertainment, while karaoke is another popular activity.

“Music is a wonderful therapy for anybody,” said Daigneault. “They really, really enjoy the music – the band and the karaoke tapes and any other type of music that we have.”

Perspectives also uses a lot of reminiscence therapy as most clients have good long-term memories and like sharing stories about their past.

Daily meals are provided via the Meals on Wheels program, with both morning and afternoon snacks.

Family members who have someone participating pay a fee for the program according to their income along a sliding fee scale, said Daigneault.

Perspectives is funded primarily through the Community Action Agency, and also receives financial support from private donations and from local civic groups and churches. Daigneault said Perspectives averages about $20,000 each year in private donations. In fact, recently Perspectives received $25,000 from the John Besse Foundation.

“After we lost our funding from the state back in May of 2009, (since) our entire budget was eliminated by the state, we sent out letters to all the churches, all the civic groups, and we were very, very blessed,” said Daigneault.

Perspectives also offers loved ones or spouses of those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia a monthly support group meeting at their facility on the second Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m. Free respite care is provided for those individuals wishing to drop off a loved one while at the hour-long support group meeting.

UPCAP also runs a six-week program called Creating Confident Caregivers for caregivers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The next class begins this month. The course provides basic information on the disease and what caregivers can expect from it.

For more information on Perspectives or on their services, contact them at 789-2886.