By Kathleen Kolenda
National Adult Day Services Week is September 20-26, 2020. Since 1983, the third week of September is designated as a time to raise awareness of the availability and accessibility of Adult Day Services that provide older adults, adults living with dementia, or adults living with disabilities with individualized therapeutic, social, and health services for some part of the day.
As an Adult Day Services provider and Board member for California Association Adult Day Services, CAADS and NADSA, National Adult Day Services Association, I celebrate the value of these essential services for the seniors, veterans and people with disabilities they support along with families and caregivers. This year, I applaud the resilience and resourcefulness of the ADS industry and all of our stakeholders to adapt to a COVID-19 pandemic environment, to keep people connected and engaged, safe and well, at home.
In March 2020, when California and most of the nation declared a COVID-19 pandemic and State of Emergency, our lives were profoundly changed. Our Easterseals Adult Day Services centers temporarily closed and the people we supported Monday through Friday were now staying at home like most of us. We tuned in to daily pandemic news about the ravages of COVID-19 and its insidious assault on seniors residing in skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities in particular. These disturbing reports reminded me of how often family members shared with me that Adult Day Services made the critical difference in their decision to keep their loved one living “at home”.
“If not for these services,” “I wish I’d known about or tried ADS sooner,” they would say. With their loved one engaged in Adult Day Services, parents, spouses and adult children share that they have peace of mind to go to work each day, they don’t worry about what is going on at home; they have the care giving break they desperately need. Their loved one is motivated to get out the door each day with a purpose and social connection with others in a safe and caring environment.
I have gone so far as to say, “ADS keeps families together” based on what I’ve learned from families, and I wondered how they would manage without our support to break up caregiving around the clock and staying at home. How would people accustomed to coming to ADS everyday understand and adjust to staying at home, not seeing their friends, and losing the structure and familiarity of their preferred daily activities and routines?
Easterseals ADS figured out how to support people and families staying safer at home by implementing remote services and virtual connections. For people who crave personal connection, thrive with activities, need reassurance or even an intervention, we learned to work together using technology. Alternative services have proven to be a lifeline for people who are alone, lonely or isolated, and people who need some diversion from the stay at home routine as the “temporary” closure has stretched towards the half-year mark.
As restrictions begin to shift, Easterseals Adult Day Services begins to open a few “in person” services with health and safety precautions as a top priority, and people are once again looking forward to attending what many call their “home away from home.”
In celebration of Adult Day Services week and looking forward, I share a powerful quote from Leonard Cohen, poet and songwriter known for this message of hope in darkness, “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” Looking forward to the light.