Aug 22, 2022
CLEARFIELD, Pa. – At Daisy Place, the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging’s (CCAAA) facility on Daisy Street in Clearfield, a ground-breaking center is housed, offering rarely seen services for senior citizens. The Adult Day Center opened its doors in April, and provides care during the day to older adults in need of support services. This allows their family members or primary caregivers to work, run errands, or take care of household tasks while knowing their loved one is in good hands.
Adult Day Center Director Julie Fenton explained, “One of our goals is to give their caregivers time to do the things that they need to do. They may need rest, they might have to go to work. We give them peace of mind that their loved one is safe, well taken care of, and doesn’t have to be alone while they’re away.”
Fenton described structured activities that the six guests currently registered at the center participate in that stimulate the mind and body. “Most people who come here have some kind of cognitive impairment. So, we give them responsibilities,” Fenton said. “Jim takes care of the dog – an animatronic pet we provide here that responds to touch with movement and barking. We have Doris who used to work as a teacher’s aide; she believes she’s coming here to teach the other consumers, and she gives them lessons. For her, she’s coming to work. Each person has unique strengths and abilities. They have jobs here that suit them, and it’s good for them.”
The consumers also play games together, complete puzzles, organize items, and more. They are provided lunch, and all dine together with Julie, enjoying conversation and the opportunity to socialize. When the weather allows, they go for walks and spend time outside at a patio area behind the building.
“The activities get their energy up, get the blood flowing, and stimulate the mind and body. It’s so good for them,” said Fenton. “Jim’s family said that before he came here he would get easily frustrated and agitated in the afternoons, and was seeking resolution for that. Now, that’s been greatly reduced because he’s more active, more stimulated, and gets more social interaction.”
Fenton continued, “I truly believe they benefit greatly from this. The families are really appreciative of them being here.”
Their families agree. Doris’ daughter, Darlene Ardary, a busy professor of nursing at Lock Haven Clearfield drops off her mother at the center on her way to campus. It gives her great peace of mind knowing her loved one is cared for. “It’s so helpful. It allows me to go to work without worrying about her. And she thinks she’s working, so it makes her feel productive and it’s good for her dignity,” Ardary said. “I think it’s amazing. There is such a huge need for this in our area. I don’t know how I would be able to find the time to work or take care of everything if this weren’t here.”
Jim’s wife, Colleen Bailey, shared, “When he was at home all day, there was a lot of confusion. I didn’t understand him, and he didn’t understand me. Now, we are working on a whole different level.” Bailey said her husband was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, and that center and CCAAA staff have also helped her understand how to manage Jim’s care at home. She said, “I know he is well taken care of, plus it’s good for me to have people to talk to. Julie and others have been so good about teaching me how to take care of him.”
Donna Hummel’s husband has lived with cognitive impairment for some time, and she also expressed her gratitude for the services the CCAAA provides through the Adult Day Center, saying, “I just think it’s absolutely wonderful. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years ago and keeps getting progressively worse. This is such a wonderful concept that gives us caregivers so much help, because it’s not an easy job.”
Hummel said her husband’s participation in activities at the center has also improved his quality of life at home. She said, “He had wandered away twice. Once at 2:00 in the morning. Now, when he comes home he’s just more alert and more clear because of the stimulation he gets here. It’s a wonderful job they do here, and I can’t thank them enough. Julie is so good with these people. More people should really take advantage of this.”
For Fenton, her work doesn’t even feel like work. With a background in social work and a passion for helping others, she finds her time spent with the seniors as fun and uplifting as they do. Fenton explained, “The consumers mean so much to me. I love interacting with them. It’s very rewarding. Seeing their smiles is the most rewarding thing to me. And when one of them does have to stay at home or go to another appointment, and they don’t come in, I miss them.”
Fortunately for Fenton and the consumers, appointments don’t always have to be far away. Right next door, in the same building, is the CCAAA’s Susquehanna Wellness Clinic. Consumers can go right across the hall for an appointment, as well as take comfort knowing that medical staff are nearby.
“It really puts families at ease knowing doctors and nurses are right next door in the event that their loved one needs care,” Fenton said.
An additional asset at the center is the addition of a Snoezelen Room. A combination of the Dutch words “snuffelen” (to seek and explore) and “doezelen” (to relax) the room is designed to deliver stimuli to the senses, using lighting effects, color, sounds, music, and scents as therapy for people living with dementia and other developmental disabilities. It is so effective at creating a sense of calm in individuals, that a smaller Snoezelen display has also been installed in the waiting room of the Susquehanna Wellness Clinic to help ease patient anxiety before their doctor’s visit.
Fenton said she’s pleased to see these tools being used to improve the lives of those in her care. She revealed that both of her parents have lived with dementia, making her passion for helping those who deal with the same issues even stronger.
Fenton remarked, “I love to be with the people. It gives me great enjoyment to be with them and to be part of their lives.”
The Adult Day Center is located at 1924 Daisy Street Extension (rear) Suite B, in Clearfield. For more information, call 814-765-2696, extension 311.
For more information on all of the services provided by the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, visit www.ccaaa.net