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Daycare can brighten life of caregivers

Ceremony at Bright Horizons recognizes seniors and their families

Dorinda Davis and her mother, Myrtle, at the annual "Thanks for Caregiving" event through Bright Horizons.

Dorinda Davis and her mother, Myrtle, at the annual "Thanks for Caregiving" event through Bright Horizons. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— The thanking was a two-way street. Caregivers expressed how Bright Horizons help relieve the caregiving load.

“I would recommend (Bright Horizons) to anyone who’s even on the fence of putting their loved one in a facility,” Fantroy said. “It’s only a day. They don’t know how much it’s helping them. My mother now communicates, and she communicates very well.”

Dorinda Davis learned about Bright Horizons through Fantroy and brought her 90-year-old mother, Myrtle, to the center. Myrtle had been living alone in a 15-room house in Alabama when a doctor said she couldn’t be by herself anymore.

“I wish I had found this program earlier,” Davis said. “For me, it has meant being able to get sleep sometimes. It’s meant for her … she comes home smiling. That means the world to me.”

Myrtle, like other members, can do crafts, sing and do yoga at the center. But many caregivers emphasized socialization is the greatest benefit to be had.

“When she’s home with me, we talk and then she sleeps. It’s a comfortable place. I don’t know if she sleeps here or not, but if she does, when she wakes up there’s somebody there that may or may not have been sleeping, too, that will talk to her about different things from what we talk about,” Davis said.

Davis said the animated and friendly staff make her feel comfortable about leaving her loved one at the center.

“You don’t feel like you’re going into a place where they work. They make you feel like you’re coming into their home,” she said. “They just welcome her. You hear so many stories about elderly people being mistreated. When I come here I just feel like they’re going to take care of her.”

Shirley McHugh has been volunteering at the center for 12 years, teaching an exercise class for the members. Colonie Senior Service Centers Executive Director Ed Neary presented McHugh with the “Power of One” award, which thanks a specific person who has helped out the center tremendously.

“I couldn’t wish to be in a better program,” McHugh said. “I can truly say …when I walk in the door I see nothing but happy faces.”

Younger generations were also touched by the event. Christine O’Brien, an intern from Hudson Valley Community College, said working with Bright Horizons has reassured her that “this is the right direction” for her.

“I love working with everyone. I don’t think … we realize the impact we make in each other’s lives. Everyone … you made me feel this is where I want to be. You make me happy,” she said.

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