FRANKFORT, KY (Sept. 17, 2004) --
It wasn't clear who was leading and who was following as the two women Texas two-stepped across the floor. But, it was abundantly clear both were enjoying the dance and, at least for that moment, the vast difference in their ages was utterly insignificant.
Mary Grayson, 83, is a participant in the Adult Day Care program at the Franklin County Senior Citizens Center, operated by the local Council on Aging. Her dance partner, Cheryl Harrod, 41, is the center's executive director. They are both sold on the benefits and advantages adult day services offer to seniors, their caregivers and those who serve them all.
Sept. 19 - 25 is National Adult Day Services Week. Adult day services centers offer community-based social and related supportive services for individuals 60 years and older who are physically disabled, frail or experiencing mental confusion and need care during part of the day. These programs are designed to solve some of the difficulties of daily living while allowing seniors to retain some independence and remain in the mainstream of community life.
In Kentucky, the Division for Aging Services in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services certifies social model adult day care programs and administers the Kentucky Adult Day Care Program.
Certified adult day care programs provide daytime supervision and care, but are not 24-hour care facilities. All programs offer help with self-administration of medications and personal care, self-care training, snacks and meals (if open during normal meal times), social activities and recreation.
Grayson has been attending adult day care for about four months - since her son and daughter-in-law began to worry about her safety at home alone during the day while they are at work.
"I enjoy the company here," Grayson said. "There is a lot to do and it makes the day pass more quickly" than if she were at home, where she'd probably spend the time sitting and reading or knitting, she said.
A graduate of the University of Kentucky and retired from a career that included teaching physical education, archery and folk dancing, Grayson was widowed four years ago and stopped driving last December when her car was totaled in an accident.
Harrod said many seniors like Grayson begin to suffer the effects of isolation and significantly reduced physical and social activity as they advance in age, which can lead to depression and premature loss of mobility and mental acuity.
"Adult day care provides social interaction and physical activity that help stimulate the body and mind and may delay and minimize some of the most common debilitating effects of aging," Harrod said. "It really is true: if you don't use it, you lose it."
Grayson said she participates in a number of the many activities offered at the adult day care facility, but she especially enjoys playing in the hand bell choir, lunch and recreational outings and the knitting and sewing groups. She quickly added, "I like to dance, too!"
Franklin County has more than 6,000 residents over the age of 60 and about half of those receive some form of services from the local seniors center. Statewide, about 1400 seniors participate in adult day care through 21 state-certified programs.
Cheryl Mahler, Home Care Coordinator for the Gateway Area Agency on Aging, said there is a noticeable difference in the quality of life for seniors who are home-bound and those who participate in adult day services. The Gateway Area Agency on Aging serves Bath, Metcalfe, Montgomery, Morgan and Rowan Counties.
"We all enjoy attention and want to feel part of something and have something to look forward to," Mahler said. "Seniors who attend day care tend to experience improvement in their mental and physical well-being and adult day care certainly enhances their social interaction with others."
Mahler said she received a letter last month from the daughters of a participant in the adult day care program at Windsor Care in Mt. Sterling who recently passed away. The two women from nearby Bethel, along with occasional paid caregivers, had shared 24-hour care of their physically frail and mentally diminished father for some time before learning about the adult day care program at Windsor Care.
"The family attended caregiver training and expressed concerns about their father's reaction to such a big change in his daily routine," Mahler said. "But, it wasn't long after he began (attending adult day care) that his daughters noticed improvements in their father's mobility and spirits. It can take time, but families come to realize and appreciate that their loved ones are well cared for and supervised (in adult day services) and that both the caregivers and the seniors benefit."
Those interested in Adult Day Care Services for themselves or loved ones or those who would like to volunteer at a center, are encouraged to contact their local Area Agency on Aging. For a list of centers across Kentucky visit the Division of Aging Services web site at www.chs.ky.gov/Aging/programs/AdultDCAlzheimer.htm.