Aloha to aging
by Sally Litchfield
MDJ Features Editor
sallylit@bellsouth.net
March 14, 2010 01:00 AM | 1603 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At Mt. Bethel Community Center, a nonprofit organization called Aloha to Aging provides a program for seniors who have stopped driving. Sitting at the table from left are ATA volunteer Martha Elgar (in the blue sweater), Harvey Thomas, Chuck Elinsky, Ruth Nicoll, ATA volunteer Bill Wenhold, Executive Director Dawn Reed, Janet Cardell, Ellen Shanks, (back) ATA volunteer Chuck Miller, Aloha to Aging program director Nancy Ptashnik, Odell Bontrager and Conrad Wynne. <br>Photo by Samantha Wilson
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Through Aloha to Aging, Inc., a nonprofit community outreach program, founder Dawn Reed promotes "A Life Of Healthy Aging" for seniors and their caregivers in Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton Counties.

"Our mission statement is to empower family caregivers, aging care receivers and volunteers in a positive nurturing manner through quality programming," executive director and president Reed said. "There's definitely a need in the community for aging services on various levels and degrees."

Reed is a certified senior adviser who has worked in the healthy aging industry for more than 20 years. "Aging issues are felt by everyone," she said.

Through a social day program, Aloha Day Club, the volunteer-driven organization addresses the social needs of seniors 55 years and older with mild to moderate impairments who have stopped driving and need social stimulation outside of their home. The 3.5-hour program includes all programming, a morning snack and lunch.

"It's an opportunity for socialization through activities like exercise, music, games, intergenerational programs, discussion, trivia," Reed said. "It is very therapeutic in nature."

Because the program is structured with therapeutic activities and socialization, the environment is beneficial for those with either physical and/or cognitive impairments. "One of the things we hear repeatedly from family caregivers is 'I wish I had brought my loved one to the program sooner,'" she said.

Four to five trained volunteers of all ages assist each day with the members' comfort and adjustment to the group. Other volunteers also provide food or share their talents in music, art and other planned activities.

"We have been very blessed with our volunteer base," Reed said, pointing out that the group receives tremendous community support as well.

Founded in 2009, Aloha to Aging also assists family members with their roles as caregivers through family care partner education and support opportunities such as Powerful Tools for Caregivers. "This class offers caregivers a wealth of self-care tools to enhance their quality of life, which in turn positively impacts the family member they are caring for," she said. "When a caregiver feels confident about their care decisions, their quality of life, as well as their care receiver's, increase."

The program is available in east Cobb from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays at Mt. Bethel Community Center, located at 4608 Lower Roswell Road, and Thursdays at Savannah Court Assisted Living, located at 886 Johnson Ferry Road. The program costs $160 per month for one day a week or $320 per month for twice a week. For more information, visit www.alohatoaging.org or call (678) 439-1177.
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