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Continuum offers innovative model for respite care

Susan Ditz
editor@nnbw.biz
A senior woman helps a young girl decorate Easter eggs at The Continuum. The interaction between seniors in the ReGenerations Adult Day Camp and children inthe day care center benefits both generations.
Courtesy The Continuum |

Across the country today, more than 65 million people, or 29 percent of the population, are providing care for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly family member, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. The value of those “free” services is estimated to be more than $375 billion, which is nearly twice as much as what is actually spent on home health care and nursing home services every year. The average family caregiver for someone 50 years or older spends $5,531 per year on out-of-pocket caregiving expenses.

Family caregivers who don’t receive support and help can quickly experience burnout — a sense of being physically, emotionally, and mentally drained that’s characterized by fatigue, fear, stress, anxiety, depression, despair, resentment and guilt. Caregivers enduring burnout may feel hopeless, resentful, isolated and trapped by their circumstances and can develop health issues of their own. It can also be extremely frustrating to research and find the financial and skill resources needed to provide the optimal level of care for a loved one.

Caregivers need help.

One of the most innovative approaches to caregiving is found at the Continuum in Reno, which is the only intergenerational program of its kind in Nevada and serves people from as far as Carson City and Incline Village.

Their ReGenerations Adult Day Club, (which costs $63 for a full day, running Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. -5:30 p.m.), assists people 18 years and older who are dealing with early to moderate dementia/Alzheimer’s issues, stroke recovery, MS, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury and related issues. According to Director Morgan Metzger, club members have access to a variety of structured groups and activities to enhance functional capabilities and encourage independence, allowing them to more fully participate at their home, with family and the community.” We focus on socialization and having as much fun as possible in a safe, supportive environment,” she said.

At the core of the club’s success is the twice-daily interaction with children from the onsite preschool. Members work with the preschoolers by decorating cookies, reading stories, working on puzzles or playing games, exercising to music or enjoying visits from therapy dogs.

“We are building relationships and the kids call the members Grandma and Grandpa,” Metzger explained. The program’s goal is “making each day the best day, one day at a time.”

The Continuum program, which can include a full spectrum of on-site rehabilitative therapy, as needed, also features a range of what Metzger calls “purposeful activity.” Participating in community volunteer projects, like folding brochures for mailing, donating craft proceeds to a special beneficiary, adopting a family for the holidays, or filling gift baskets enhances member’s self worth and feelings of accomplishment and encourages movement, agility and range of motion.

Entertainment is another key ingredient of the ReGenerations program achievements. Music and dancing make people happy, reduce stress and help make connections to special memories so Metzger says they have frequent regular sing-alongs, a monthly magic show and they even host a senior prom.