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JFVS club gives seniors ‘day away’
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JFVS club gives seniors ‘day away’

Volunteer Bobby Garfinkel of Colonia works with participants of the Elderday at Edison program for people with Alzheimer’s and cognitive disorders. Photo courtesy Jewish Family and Vocational Service of Middlesex County
Volunteer Bobby Garfinkel of Colonia works with participants of the Elderday at Edison program for people with Alzheimer’s and cognitive disorders. Photo courtesy Jewish Family and Vocational Service of Middlesex County

Caregivers needing a short respite from dealing with a loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s disease or a cognitive disorder now have a new option.

The Jewish Family and Vocational Service of Middlesex County has started its “A Day Away Club” as an added component to its long-established Elderday at Edison program. The club allows seniors to spend time in the program on an “as-needed” basis.

Under the auspices of JFVS’ Edith & Martin Stein Center for Senior Adults, the Elderday program meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El in Edison. Trained personnel and volunteers provide needed socialization and cognitive skills in an “intimate” setting. Previously, however, Elderday accepted participants only on a regular basis.

Now, said JFVS executive director Sara Levine, “if you are a caregiver and an old friend calls you up and asks to meet you for lunch, all that person would have to do is call us up and give 48 hours notice. You don’t have to join the club and be a regular. This is a whole new way to give caregivers an occasional respite.”

Program director Elyse Phillips said the program averages about 12 members per day, and although it hopes to increase attendance with the new option, participants will continue to receive the individualized attention that has been its hallmark. Breakfast and lunch are served, and a registered nurse is on staff.

“That intimacy has really been a selling point for us and allowed us to focus on very individualized attention,” Phillips said. “We focus on cognitive skills in a variety of ways. We bring in entertainment and have sing-alongs and reminiscence and talk about current events. We have two musicians that come in on a regular basis, and the other day we had a school choir.”

Other activities include exercise, word games, guest speakers, and crafts, said Phillips, who described herself as “being attuned with caregiving issues,” having moved two years ago from California to care for her elderly mother in Monroe. She has a master’s degree in gerontology.

“A program like this gives caregivers a lot more wiggle room and a lot less stress because their older relative is being taken care of by people who know their issues,” said Phillips. “It really gives them peace of mind….”

Levine said the new option would “be a great opportunity to try out the program” for those considering using it on a regular basis.

Transportation is available for regulars and may be possible for some “day away” participants. Financial aid may also be available. For information, call JFVS at 732-777-1940 or 609-395-7979.

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