Day breaks for Alzheimer's families
Rotarians Jacqueline Chatenet (left), Robert Croux (center), and Jacques Laurant fill key roles at La Halte Répit, a Rotary club-sponsored Alzheimer's care center. The facility in Port-la-Nouvelle, France, offers caregivers a much-needed break from their duties several hours a week.
F or several years, Rotarian Robert Croux struggled to care for his wife, Vony, who had Alzheimer’s disease, at their home in Port-la-Nouvelle, France.
By 2002, she no longer recognized him or their children. One day while he was taking a nap, she ran away. He brought her home, then built higher walls around their villa and removed the doorknobs to try to keep her safe.
“Often she would tell me, ‘I do not know you! You have to leave!’” he said.
His wife’s long illness forced him to miss many Rotary club meetings. His friends at the Rotary Club of Port-la-Nouvelle tried to help, as they watched him become “sad and withdrawn,” recalled club member Jean-Claude Lamar. After consulting with experts in 2004, the club opened La Halte Répit (A Pause for Rest), a day care facility for patients with Alzheimer’s.
Although Vony died the next year, local families continue to bring their parents and grandparents every Thursday afternoon to the center, housed in a town council building. Trained volunteers sing, play games, and exercise with patients for a few hours, giving the caregivers a much-needed break. Families pay only a small fee.
“Our project answers the families’ need to rest from time to time,” said Rotarian Jacques Laurant, who cofounded La Halte Répit. “And the families tell us the patients are happier after they come here.”
See other stories from the May edition of The Rotarian