By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
County Judge John Roane proclaimed April 26 as Gainesville’s “Time Out Day” in a presentation at the Stanford House for the 20th anniversary of the Soroptimist Club Time Out program — a program designed to give Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers a respite.
“Not only am I happy to make this proclamation but as a citizen of Cooke County I would like to thank each of the volunteers that make this program what it is, a service to all of the citizens of our county,” Roane said. “I see many of the same faces as volunteers in other organizations and you all do this community a great service.”
The Time Out program of Gainesville began in 1993 as a replica of a program that was underway in Sherman to give Alzheimer and dementia patients the opportunity to rediscover joy in living as they share recreational activities with others.
“The program also gives caregivers some time for themselves even if for only four hours to do things that it is difficult to accomplish in a caretakers role,” Time Out director Evelyn Yeatts said. “When the participant is here under a supervised environment, their caretaker can be assured that their loved one is safe and happy.”
The Time Out program is held at the Stanford House for four hours on Wednesdays. It is open to those with memory loss who still retain some of their social skills. The program is free.
The staff consists of a professional director and devoted community volunteers which includes Soroptimist members. The staff is trained to meet the special needs of each participant and dedicated to provide a positive and happy experience during each program.
“Wednesdays begin with lots of hugs and ‘glad to see yous’ followed by games such as horseshoes and bean bag toss.” Yeatts said.
Music is also part of the Time Out program.
“We have several music groups that come in and many of our participants can sing many of the old songs despite memory lapses in other areas,” Yeatts said. “Snacks are always provided and we have table games such as bingo, dominoes or chicken foot.”
Yeatts said participants enjoy the balloon toss — a finale to each Time Out session.
“There is something about a balloon hitting the nose that causes a smile reaction in everyone,” she said.
One of the caregivers attending the reception was Gordonville resident Janet Cole whose husband Jim participated in Time Out while he was able.
“Jim was reluctant about going at first but after the first time, you couldn’t keep him away,” she said. “He only missed one time in 14 months.”
“Before his illness Jim always was busy working with wood or gun smithing,” she continued. “He was able to rekindle his interest in working with his hands during the craft time and loved it. He was really good.”
“I can’t put into words what it not only meant to him to look forward to ‘Time Out’ but also gave me time to get things done that I normally could not do. It meant so much to both of us,” she said.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan called Alzheimer’s disease “the long good by.” For a few hours each week, the Soroptimist Club in conjunction with the Stanford House prolongs the joy of life just a little bit longer in the hearts of Cooke County Time Out participants and their caretakers.