A Respite For Caregivers; A Refuge For The Aged

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When loved ones need around-the-clock care, personal time for the caregiver can be a difficult thing to obtain.

Memory Lane offers a solution for five hours each Tuesday and Wednesday in Payson. On those days, Memory Lane, a service of the Gila Aging Services of Payson, opens its doors as a kind of day care for the elderly suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's.

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Jane Gusimate loves to put puzzles together while she is being watched over at Memory Lane.

"Not only is Memory Lane wonderful, but they are extremely kind to the people they care for," Jacquielynn Zumach said.

Her mother, 100-year-old Pat Griffin, recently started spending time at Memory Lane where there are other people her age and she is safe.

"She needs outside stimulation the same as I do," Zumach said.

The hours off give Zumach time for what she loves -- horseback riding in the woods.

Richard Roy takes Martha, his wife of "53 years and holding" to visit Memory Lane so he can relax and putter in his yard and she can talk to her new friend, Griffin.

Martha has dementia and has wandered away from Roy and their home a few times.

"It is amazing what I can accomplish without having to watch her all the time," Roy said.

Memory Lane's paid caregiver Kathy McVaugh coordinates the day for the people left in her care.

A day might include reading to them, making a craft or, in cooler weather, a walk outside.

Puzzles line the walls of Memory Lane.

One of McVaugh's charges, Jane Gusimate, is something of a savant when it comes to puzzles.

"Gusimate can put a 500-piece puzzle together in about a day," McVaugh said.

If there is not conversation, there is always something entertaining going on.

Isabelle is the Lane's therapy dog. The spaniel makes the rounds of the women for a pat on the head or a lap to sit in and get petted.

Other diversions include live music, movies and snacks.

"In the afternoons when I am cleaning up and doing the lunch dishes, I sometimes put on a movie for them to watch," McVaugh said. "I love to cook from scratch. Sometimes I make them cookies for a snack, but I make certain they get lots of vegetables and fruits, too."

Because McVaugh loves to bead, she has brought her personal supplies and the ladies at the Lane have spent time making bracelets.

Some they get to keep, but others are being crafted to sell in hopes of making it possible for people who cannot afford the price of care to have a respite.

"We used to be funded by the state," said Inga DeVeaux, case manager for Gila Aging Services of Payson who coordinates Memory Lane.

Now, it is up to the individual to pay for the service and Gila Aging relies on donations to cover the cost of the rented building and caregiver salary.

It costs $25 a day plus $3.50 for the meal to have someone cared for at Memory Lane.

Memory Lane can accommodate 10 people on a regular basis and a few more as drop-ins.

There is paperwork to fill out for anyone who wishes to use the service.

Inquiries can be made to DeVeaux at (928) 468-0546. The GASP office is located at 809 W. Longhorn, Room D24 in Payson.

-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail clavalley@payson.com.

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