Coastal Manor hosted a family day for its residents Aug. 9 in Ludowici with help from the Hinesville Rotary Club and Fort Stewart’s Medical and Dental Activity Command.
Soldiers, families and community members joined together to raise the residents’ spirits with summer fun. Volunteers barbecued hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages while others put on demonstrations, performances and presentations.
“Our staff enjoys coming out and volunteering,” said Col. Kirk Eggleston, the commander of Winn Army Community Hospital and Stewart-Hunter MEDDAC. “We have a great partnership with the local community, Liberty Regional Medical Center and the Rotary Club.”
Eggleston spoke at the event to build awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, which slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.
“Part of the reason why we are seeing so many cases of Alzheimer’s is because we have a large aging population,” he said. “This is a disease of the aging.”
While there is no cure for the disease, Eggleston recommends getting plenty of exercise and eating a balanced diet to help prevent the disorder. Staying mentally active has shown to improve health as well.
“Right now, the research doesn’t show any specific strategy to prevent Alzheimer’s,” he said. “But staying active, physically and mentally, has been shown to be helpful in the past.”
Eggleston and other soldiers socialized with residents during the event, many of whom are veterans themselves.
“A lot of our residents are from the surrounding areas and have served in the military,” Activities Director Christi Presley said. “Our mission as staff of the (Coastal) Manor is to provide our residents with the best nursing care available and to build a happy, home environment for them to recover in.”
Coastal Manor is a 108-bed long-term nursing facility in Ludowici. It provides rehabilitation therapy, specialty care and daily activity programs. The facility was presented with the Georgia Nursing Home Association’s award in 2005 for its commitment to quality long-term care.
“We try to keep our residents physically active by going for walks, providing physical therapy, moving to music and other activities every day,” Presley said. “Physical health is a priority; however, a lot of them heal better when they build relationships with other people outside their family, like staff and volunteer relationships.”
Events like the family day foster these types of relationships and contribute to a positive outlook on life.
“They feel like they have support, and it makes them feel more hopeful,” Presley said. “It also builds their confidence in their recovery.”
Volunteers are an important component in maintaining the morale at the nursing home.
“Volunteers know our residents by name; they know where their rooms are,” she said. “They visit our residents like they are visiting a friend, and that is so important to our residents.”
Throughout the morning of family day, volunteers, staff, soldiers and families socialized and ate with the residents.
“It is important for us to support our city clubs and organizations,” said Brigitte Shanken, Winn volunteer coordinator and Hinesville Rotary Club president. “We all share the same goal, which is to make a difference in the community and to volunteer our services.”
The Rotary Club is an international program with over 1.2 million members, she said.
“When we say members, we are talking about neighbors, families and business leaders in our community,” Shanken said. “Service above self is our motto.”
The family day is one way for Rotarians to make a difference for people in the community who deserve it. This year was the first time the Rotary Club participated in the event, but MEDDAC and Winn have been volunteering at the family day for eight years.
“We wanted to help out today, have fun at the cookout and hopefully bring a smile to the residents,” Shanken said. “This is something that will create great memories for them.”