Frances Toler, 60, is bright-eyed and full of life though she has progressive Alzheimer's and has lost ability to communicate verbally. Her smile contagious and joyful laugh fills the room, especially when her senior companion, Eleanor Blunt, comes to visit with her.
Frances and Eleanor have been paired through Council on Aging of West Florida's Senior Companion Program for just over two months. Though it's only been for a short time, Eleanor has seen an impact of her being there.
"I've noticed she has become more comfortable with me," said Eleanor, "Although she cannot speak with a voice, she'll now come up to me and smile and I can tell she is taking a liking to my presence."
On a typical day, the pair "go out in the backyard and seat and eat meals together." This allows for Frances's husband of 40 years, Andy Toler, to receive some much needed respite and prepare sermons for his church.
"It's a very positive impact for myself and Frances," said Andy, "She doesn't have to be around me the whole time and she is able to socialize with other people."
Andy has also been able to receive direct assistance from Eleanor with her past experience working with clients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
"Ms. Eleanor has really helped me out with the diet part for Frances," said Andy, "I tend to think about what I need to eat and now I know what Frances needs and the right amounts to give her."
The two have worked seamlessly together to provide adequate care for Frances.
"I've always been surrounded by seniors and for some reason or the other," said Eleanor, "I understand her condition. I worked with previous clients with Alzheimer's. I've actually been able to help Mr. Toler and explain to him some things going on with Frances."
Eleanor has become part of the family very quickly and is not only thankful for the opportunity, but also the chance to care for a senior and provide some free time for Andy.
"He does a beautiful job with her," said Eleanor, "I compliment him all the time about that. I couldn't be in a better setting and really do thank God for that."
Council on Aging of West Florida is compliant with the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability. Learn more at www.bbb.org.