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Giving thanks to caregivers

— When Katie Swartwout left her husband at Bright Horizons for the first time, she felt horrible.

“When I went to pick him up he was sitting across the room looking at the door. … When I came in, he had this expression of, ‘Oh, where have you been?!’ like I had left him for four months,” said Swartwout. “He slept for the next 28 hours.”

These days, though, that’s far from the case.

“Let me tell you what it was like trying to get him out of there today. It has changed so much because he just loves being there,” said Swartwout. “I have to coax him to come home with me.”

Swartwout shared her story about being a caregiver at the Thanks for Caregiving event on Thursday, Nov. 17, at Beltrone Living Center, one of Bright Horizon’s locations. Seniors and their families enjoyed churros, coffee, tea, a raffle and each took home a Thanksgiving pie.

November is National Caregivers Month and the annual event is Bright Horizons’ way of thanking caregivers for their “tireless efforts” in caring for their loved ones. Bright Horizons is a day program for seniors run by the Colonie Senior Services Centers at threelocations —Beltrone Living Center, Pine Grove Methodist Church, Corondelet—where they eat breakfast, lunch, snack and spend the day doing activities and socializing.

“It’s a place where caregivers can drop off their loved ones in an environment that is safe, fun and caring,” said Kelly Mateja, CSSC’s director of programs and services. “They do a lot of physical activities to keep their bodies moving but also cognitive activities like a word jumble or board games.”

Bright Horizons serves about 90 families and has members in their 50s through to their 90s, though the majority are toward the older end of that spectrum.

For Swartwout, whose husband has Alzheimer’s disease, Bright Horizons has been “a blessing.”

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