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Published on February 06, 2017

A ‘staycation’ for seniors at adult day program

A ‘staycation’ for seniors at adult day program

Alice and Dog

Alice, here with Mary, enjoys the golden retrievers who visit for pet therapy.

After Alice suffered a mild stroke and later broke both hips in falls, her daughter wanted to make sure her 93-year-old mother had care when she wasn’t home. The Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod (VNA) Adult Day Health Center in Sandwich offered a perfect solution – complete medical oversight and days full of engaging activities.

For Jim, who is 87, short-term memory loss brought him to the Center. He was happily retired and living in Florida, when his wife passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. He moved back to the Cape to live with his daughter and her husband, and she didn’t want him to be alone while she was at work. So last September, Jim started coming to the Tradewinds Adult Day Health Center in Sandwich.

“It’s a remarkably good program for making life more interesting than just sitting at home not knowing what to do,” Jim said.

Diann Cardillo, RN, and program manager of Tradewinds Adult Day Services, was glad to help them.

“We welcome all levels of physical, mental and competence needs, from Alzheimer’s and dementia to physical and cognitive limitations,” she said.

Both Tradewinds and its sister center, Compass Adult Day Health in Harwich, are well staffed and give each person specialized care. There are two nurses on site at all times, along with three program aides, and a full-time activities director, Cardillo said.  In addition, a social worker is there three days a week and occupational, physical and speech therapy is available at the center as well.

A member of Cape Cod Healthcare, the VNA Tradewinds Adult Day Health Center in Sandwich currently cares for about 30 seniors, and can accommodate more, according to Cardillo.

Medical Models

Jim is the Bingo King

Jim is the Bingo King.

What’s unique about Tradewinds Compass is that they are medical models. This means nurses are on-site to administer medications. They are in contact with their clients’ physicians and family members and constantly to go over a client’s needs, set goals, and even alert family members and doctors if they see signs of depression.

In addition to getting expert medical care, clients like Alice and Jim have fun at the cozy center in Sandwich. They are making new friends and new discoveries every day as they participate in activities that stimulate their minds and bodies.

A typical day starts off with coffee and a continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Then there area various activities – from seated physical exercise to engaging mental challenges like word puzzles and card games.

Meditation has become very popular, Cardillo said. “People I wouldn’t think would do it totally participate. It’s great to see.”

People also enjoy sports like chair bowling and golf.  And a hot lunch is served each day.  Once a week, there are special visitors who bring musical entertainment and pet therapy.

For Alice, being wheelchair-bound doesn’t keep her down. She comes two days a week and particularly likes the music. She’s always loved music and dance, she said.

“I think it’s really great. The staff is so wonderful to everybody. They’re always there for you if you need help,” she said.

Jim is the Bingo King because he has a loud voice for calling numbers. And his natural warmth and empathy make him a popular member of the Center.

“I thoroughly enjoy it,” he said.

Families sometimes struggle with the decision to bring an aging parent to a center, Cardillo said.

“It’s emotional the first day they drop off a parent, like the first day of school. But when they see what we do, they become family,” she said. “’Just experience it,’ we tell them. Once they come for two weeks, we win them over.”