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Marble Falls respite center offers support for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers

MARBLE FALLS — When Dean Kendall first took her husband, Kenneth, to the Highland Lakes Respite Center in Burnet several years ago, she noticed an immediate impact on her and her husband’s lives.

Almost immediately, she realized how happy her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, was during and after his respite center visits. At the center, Kenneth enjoyed listening to music, playing games and eating meals with others.

PHOTO 1: Kendall Respite Center attendees Sidney Smith (left), Brenda Baumann and Ken Flowers enjoy a game of dominoes, one of the many activities the center offers to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia and anyone who wants to stay and play. Staff photos by Jennifer Fierro

Kendall Respite CenterPHOTO 2: Kendall Respite Center client Barbara Cunningham (right) colors while volunteer Laura Eaton observes.

For Dean, who served as her husband’s primary caregiver, she learned how important it was to just have some time to herself.

“My mom couldn’t believe the difference it made for him and for her,” said Brenda Baumann, the couple’s daughter. “He’d say, ‘I went to see my friends yesterday.’”

As caregivers take care of loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia-related illnesses, they often get little time for themselves. This can lead to unneeded stress and other negative feelings.

Caregiver advocates stress the importance of making time for oneself.

Dean experienced the positive impacts these few hours a week had on her life first hand. And she also saw how her husband benefitted from the social settings at the respite center.

It was something she wanted other caregivers and their charges to experience.

So after Kenneth died, Dean went to Pastor Matt Homeyer and Gay Bergman of Fellowship Baptist Church, where the couple attended services, to ask if the congregation would consider starting a respite center.

In August 2009, the church opened the Kendall Respite Center, which hosts people with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions every Thursday.

Currently, the group has six active members, said director and coordinator Janie White. But she and volunteers are looking for more.

The center has drawn as many as 14 clients, who are served breakfast and lunch, listen to musical programs, play games and enjoy crafts. At times, volunteers have taken participants on field trips to places such as Sweet Berry Farm or asked organizations such as a vintage car group to put on programs at the church.

There’s no charge to participate in the weekly program, White said. The center gets support through a Capital of Texas Chapter Alzheimer’s Association grant and the Fellowship Baptist Church congregation, which views the program as a part of its ministry.

“We feel there are people out there who need it,” she said.

Caretakers are welcome to stay but aren’t required to, White said. Most caregivers purposely use the time their loved one is at the center to attend to personal things.

Forms must be filled out before a new client can participate, White said, because the Alzheimer’s Association has a few guidelines, though not all clients have Alzheimer’s. Some have dementia-related diseases, she added.

And volunteers report that clients rise early on Thursdays, anticipating a morning of fun, White said.

“They feel loved and cared for and accepted,” Baumann said. “They don’t feel embarrassed. I think they enjoy being with us.”

“It’s the greatest thing I’ve been associated with,” White said.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

HIGHLAND LAKES RESPITE AND CAREGIVER CENTERS

Kendall Respite Center at Fellowship Baptist Church, 2702 Mormon Mills Road in Marble Falls, Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Call Janie White at (830) 598-2819 or Gay Bergmann at (830) 385-4244.

Wesley Respite Center at First United Methodist Church, 1101 Bluebonnet in Marble Falls, Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Call Dani Seelig at (512) 293-6316.

Highland Lakes Respite Center at First United Methodist Church, 301 E. Graves in Burnet, Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call Mary Jane Shanes at (512) 756-9329 or registered nurse Diane Caruthers at (512) 793-6958.

Caregiver’s Day Out at Pittsburg Avenue Baptist Church, 709 Pittsburgh Ave. in Llano, Mondays from 10 a.m. to 
2 p.m. Call the church at (325) 247-4042.