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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Respite, therapy offered at DayBreak

Patty Hutchens Staff writer

When helping an aging parent or spouse, the caretaker is often a forgotten part of the equation. But now Bonner County families who have loved ones suffering from dementia are not only finding respite through the newly opened DayBreak Center, but their relatives are also receiving therapy in a loving and nurturing environment.

The DayBreak Center opened in downtown Sandpoint in August, and while still in the six-month trial stage, those involved are confident it will continue to grow and meet the needs of those in this community.

Sponsored by the Sandpoint Senior Center, DayBreak’s mission is to provide dementia patients with activities to help stimulate memory while also giving them the opportunity to socialize.

“All the activities are research-based,” said Kelly Hurt, DayBreak’s Program Director, who adds that the therapeutic focus has proven to help delay the progress of the disease.

The initial step in taking advantage of this service is to call Hurt, who completes an assessment over the phone. A referral from a doctor is not necessary, but Hurt and activities director Judy Totten do have an open communication with the clients’ physicians regarding their care. The cost for DayBreak is $7.50 per hour or $37.50 per day. Hurt said while it is private pay, if appropriate a client can submit the cost to the insurance company for reimbursement.

The Center’s goal is not only to maintain and improve their clients’ functioning and cognitive awareness, it also strives to offer much needed respite time for caregivers.

“These people (caregivers) are heroes,” said Hurt. “I don’t know how they do it – to have your wife or husband of 50-plus years not even know who you are.”

Recently, the staff at DayBreak had a family member of one of their patients tell them that the program has saved their entire family.

Hurt says while families provide the day-to-day care of the patients, they do not always have time to devote to activities that help stimulate the client’s cognitive functioning. That is where the DayBreak Center plays a crucial role.

According to Hurt, the clients spend a lot of time reminiscing as well as keeping up on current events.

“We take time and read the good things in the newspaper,” said Hurt. Other activities include range of motion exercises, Bingo, sing-alongs, and some pampering as well.

Hurt said many of the people she visits with are longtime Sandpoint residents. They love to reminisce and talk about things such as when the Long Bridge was built out of planks and on windy days the water would come up between the boards.

“I love hearing their stories,” said Hurt, who has her master’s degree in social work and has many years of experience working with the elderly. “It’s my love.”

The staff at DayBreak has already seen improvements in the clients they serve. One patient used to cry frequently, but with the stimulation she receives it has brightened her mood and resulted in a much happier disposition not only at the Center, but at home as well.

“It (the Center) becomes like home to these people,” said Hurt.

One of their clients recently recognized her daughter for the first time in a long time – something which provides a little bit of light in what can otherwise be a very sad time in the lives of the caregivers.

“It is very hard for people to ask for help,” said Hurt, who emphasizes that the DayBreak Center also gives the caregivers a chance to meet and find support among one another.

For the families who are participating in the program, it has proved to be money well spent.

“They are happy to be here and they feel very connected. We do a lot of laughing,” said Hurt.