There comes a time in our lives when we may have to take time out to care for a family member who has become dependent on assistance for various health reasons. Caregivers transport their loved ones to doctor’s offices, schedule medical appointments, accompany them on grocery shopping trips and assist them in so many ways. Family members who perform these very necessary duties with devotion and care are to be admired.

However, it is so very important that some respite time is necessary for the caregiver, enabling them to continue with patience and dedication to those who are in need of assistance. Perhaps the caregiver requires a visit to the barber or beauty salon or just wants to enjoy lunch with a friend. Keeping up the energy level and good spirits is important.

Respite time for themselves is challenging for caregivers. However, there is a program in Milford, the Ahrens Program, located at the Milford Senior Center, 9 Jepson Drive, that can provide an opportunity for a loved one to enjoy varied activities that are beneficial to both the participant and the caregiver.

The Ahrens Program is supported by the City of Milford and is also funded by a grant from The United Way of Milford. This is an excellent program designed for individuals with cognitive impairments who require a supervised environment.

When the participant arrives in the morning, they are greeted by Ahrens Program Coordinator Rita Whiskeyman, Assistant Coordinator Maryann Hayes, and volunteers who serve a light breakfast.  The Life Bridge Community Café provides a nutritious lunch Monday through Friday.

The participant is supervised by staff members and volunteers who truly love what they do every single day. They are warm, considerate and extremely patient and helpful. The facility is attractive and inviting with music, movies, entertainment, chair exercises and occasional local outings.

Maryann Hayes, assistant coordinator, assists with creative activities, birthdays and special occasions that are celebrated with family members, refreshments, singing and good wishes.  The area is cheerfully decorated with holiday themes amid conversations, laughter and smiling participants.

During their stay in the Ahrens Program, participants are offered a variety of activities such as arts and crafts, cards, puzzles, Wii Bowling and day trips to area beaches and restaurants.

The Ahrens Program has received numerous awards, including being written into the Congressional Record in Washington, D.C. by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. This program is not only unique and caring but is considered a true asset to the older adults of Milford.

The Ahrens Program is open to Milford residents who are members of the Milford Senior Center. The annual membership fee is $15.

For additional information contact Rita Whiskeyman, Ahrens Program coordinator, or Jean Kaluzynski, social service worker, at 203 877-5131.