A visit to The Living Cornerstone in Sedgefield

By Rose Greyling Bilbrough from Travelbug Rose Blogger

A lone soul sits in a sunny corner, her hands gently intertwined in her lap. The soft sun seems to map the wrinkles over her aged skin. Her face is still as she stares out of the window, unseeing. Time seems to pass without recognition. A stranger passes by and gently adjusts the blanket that covers her fragile frame, in need of warmth. Her eyes shift slowly to meet those of her caregiver, eyes that were once the windows to her soul, sparkling, twinkling and sharp, but now, those windows have grown dull, her memories pushed so far back that only a hazy film of confusion and wonder is left.

Alzheimer’s, a sickness that slowly steals your soul and leaves you lost, frightened and confused. It is a struggle to remember where you are and who people around you are, while staring at a loved one, a child, a grandchild or a spouse not recognising the familiar stranger in front of you. Families watch heartbroken as their loved ones drift into an unknown realm of their own.
Care for most of these souls requires full-time dedication and not many families have the necessary time or ability. It is so hard to see someone you love slowly lose their dignity and it leaves you with a feeling of deep sadness
Many of us make plans for our retirement, the dream of what you will do once you get rid of that damn job that has been keeping you too busy for so many years. Long walks on the beach, cards with friends, painting a seascape on a porch and so much more to look forward to. Then suddenly, one day, the dream becomes a place that you are lost in, a jail, a sentence, as you slowly lose your way.
Gilda, the heart and hands behind “The Living Cornerstone” Alzheimer’s homes, told me the story of how she originally started “Meals on Wheels” in Sedgefield, the small town along the Garden Route, an initiative that visited people’s homes and supplied them with cooked meals a couple of times a week. Being the concerned person she is, she soon realized that many of the folk never ate the food that was given to them. As she started investigating this more and more, she found that some of the people forgot to eat or did not even know-how! In horror she realised that these individuals had lost the ability to bathe themselves, clean their homes, wash their clothes and could literally not function on their own. Her heart went out to them and she started to formulate a plan to set up the first of many Living Cornerstone homes in Sedgefield.
It is here that you find these souls receiving the gentleness and the dignity that they deserve. There is nothing fancy about these homes except that they are filled with love, sunshine, warm beds that are functional, large lounges, a kitchen with delicious smelling food, gardens, freshly washed linen and dedicated staff that all call Gilda “Tannie”. It is here that they receive, love, patience and company. Gilda is not without a sense of humour and chats and jokes with most of the residents. It is lovely to see the residents giggle and smile with her in response to her interaction. After being rather apprehensive about my visit, I left with a warm fuzzy feeling inside and found myself smiling as I walked to my car to leave.

The With Heart platform is dedicated to the causes of others and it’s our profound privilege to partner with people such as Gilda to help her grow these homes and create a safe space for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. It cannot be done without the communities support. Donate Now by visiting their page for their contact details or bid on an auction on With Heart with the majority of the winning bid helping to fund her vision.

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