Once a week, Gisele DeVito climbs into a van and heads over to the Westshore adult daycare program at The Priory care facility in Colwood.
Her active participation in the program once prompted a Priory staffer to mistake her for a volunteer.
The truth is, DeVito, 58, was diagnosed about two years ago with early onset Alzheimer disease and attends the program to keep her body and mind active.
“I could go more, but I like my time,” she says. “I like walking.”
The Colwood resident frequently makes the trip between her home on Wishart Road to Esquimalt Lagoon and back.
DeVito, with the help of husband, Buddy, and her neuropsychiatrist Dr. Mohamed Gheis, is among those who are being proactive with their health after receiving a dementia-related diagnosis.
Lori McLeod, executive director of the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation, which helps fund the centre, says in years past the options were more limited for such patients.
“Before, you’d put them in the hospital and that was that,” she says. “Now people want to stay at home as long as possible and (this program) is a way to help do that.”
Buddy DeVito has personal experience with the former scenario. “Seven years ago my mother died of Alzheimer’s disease, and she had been in the hospital for seven years,” he says.
He and Gisele feel blessed that her situation has not paralleled that of his mother and other dementia patients who have suffered through the stages of the degenerative disease.
“Gisele’s life is very structured most days,” Buddy says, noting that having a rigid schedule helps keep her mind active. “But she knows what she wants and what she doesn’t want. I don’t mollycoddle her.”
The adult daycare centre is just one of many resources the Eldercare Foundation steers people toward as a way of enhancing the quality of life of older adults or those needing health monitoring.
Many families aren’t quite sure where to begin searching for such help, McLeod says. “Our dream is that people, as they’re aging, start looking for resources in the community – they learn what’s out there and get connected. Online resources can be overwhelming. We want to make it easy.”
For information about the adult daycare centre, call the foundation at 250-370-5664. For other resources visit gvef.org or call Island Health’s general inquiry line at 250-388-2273.
Swing the clubs, swing your partner
Buddy DeVito is pulling out all the stops to raise money for the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation-funded Westshore adult daycare centre.
To do it, he’s come up with the Buddy DeVito 9 Holes, Dinner and Dance, a fun tournament set for Friday, July 11 at Olympic View where singles and couples can play a relaxing round of golf, enjoy dinner then dance the night away.
The full meal deal: nine holes of golf, a power cart, buffet dinner, prizes, a silent auction and dancing to the Tom Morrisey Band, is $95 per person. For the dinner and dancing only, it’s $49 per person.
“It was a real coup to get the likes of Bob Saunders on board – he’s putting up a car as a hole-in-one prize – and Tom Morrisey and his band,” DeVito said.
The shotgun start is at 4 p.m. To sign up, call 250-370-5664, visit gvef.org or call Ken Langdon at the pro shop, 250-474-3673 ext 231.