Those who attended Friday's groundbreaking for an adult day care were reminded that for most anyone, the need for compassionate care for oneself or a loved one with dementia may be just a day away.
Several people attended the groundbreaking for Birchwood, the new name and soon-to-be home of what is now A Day Away Adult Daycare.
“We all know what the demographics are 20 or 30 years out,” Fort Wayne City Councilman Mitch Harper said of Alzheimer's disease and other dementia conditions that today affect one in eight older Americans.
The facility being built on nearly 3 acres in the Inverness Centre off Illinois Road triples the current space and is the dream of A Day Away cofounders Stephanie Stilabower and Becky Armstead. The two and a third partner, now retired, opened A Day Away 10 years ago at the former YWCA on Wells Street. It was the community's first adult day care for people with Alzheimer's. In 2007, after the center received nonprofit status, A Day Away moved to the Ash Centre on Freeman Street.
Cathy Chester, 54, has been going to A Day Away since it was at the former YWCA campus. She is a stroke survivor, and life's challenges led her family to look for a place where she would not just have her physical needs met but where she would thrive in an atmosphere of interesting activities, dignity and a sense of belonging. Chester found all that and more.
“You're like family at A Day Away – and they keep you laughing,” Chester said.
Those qualities endeared Vera Bradley cofounder Barb Baekgaard to commit financially and professionally to the project. When Birchwood opens late this year, Baekgaard's flare for interior decorating will be evident.
“It will look homey but will have more of a club appeal. The colors will be bright and warm,” said Baekgaard, whose late husband had Alzheimer's. She was introduced to A Day Away through another Vera Bradley executive, Jill Nichols, whose mother became an A Day Away “family member” in 2009.
Amenities at Birchwood will include a living room, large activity room, bathrooms with showers, offices, bedrooms, spacious dining room and kitchen, front porch, walking paths, and garden area. Programming follows the Montessori model. It will also continue the weekend overnight care options.