COLUMBUS, Ga. — Caring for an elderly loved one can be stressful. Sometimes the caregiver just simply needs a break. That’s where the St. Luke Respite Care Ministry comes in.
When News 3 walked in with our camera, we were greeted by the Boogie Woogie sounds coming from the piano, courtesy of Miss Mary Francis. She’s one of ten folks enrolled in St. Luke’s Respite Care program. It’s located on 3rd Avenue in Downtown Columbus and offers a place where caregivers of those with cognitive disorders can leave their loved ones for a few hours.
“The burden of care giving, even though there’s a great reward, it is tremendous stress. Caregiver burnout is for real,” says Diane Hett.
Marian Fletcher is one of dozens of volunteers who comes each week to help out.
“We’re here to give their caregivers a respite during the day…a few hours where they can take care of things that they need to get done and know that their loved ones are in a safe place and that we’re having a good time,” says Marian Fletcher.
After the piano concert, the program participant along with the staff and volunteers headed to the indoor volleyball court for some exercise. Then it was on to the back patio for either a game of cards or dominoes.
“When we leave here, we are tired. It’s been a full day, but it’s been a good day,” says Becky Cartledge.
Otto Chitwood is 91-years-old. He’s been a volunteer for over five years.
“I’m trying to help others. It helps me more than I help others,” says Otto Chitwood.
“When you think about older people, just think of the wealth of experiences and what their lives have been. Some of that comes out when we talk to them,” says Marian.
“It’s a blessing to have this place because I think for the people that we help serve, the caregivers, just to have that break, I know that’s got to mean a lot,” says Becky.
“What caregivers tell us is when they get home, their loved one has been stimulated and they feel like the program actually improves their cognitive ability. We don’t know about that, but we think it may,” says Diane.
The program runs Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 until 2. There is a reasonable fee. They do have a waiting list. Participants have to meet certain criteria. It’s open to the community, not just St. Luke members. And they could use more volunteers. You can call (706) 256-3117 for more information.