Support for seniors

Adult day programs promote healthy aging

Soni, Letourneau, Fransoo,
Volunteer arts instructor Diane Marion (left) shares a moment with client Rose Kenesei.
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Get with the program

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2016

Rose Kenesei recently celebrated her 85th birthday with a circle of friends she’s only known for a year.

Kenesei – who has lived alone since the passing of her husband, Louis – has been coming on Mondays and Fridays to the Adult Day Program at Actionmarguerite St. Boniface since September 2015.

“I love people and conversations,” says Kenesei, who worked as a hairdresser after emigrating from Hungary in 1957, fleeing from the revolution in that country.

“When I come here, my friends and I have giggles and laughs. Everyone is so funny and gentle. I love the exercises and the art classes. I’ve always wanted to learn to paint. It does something for my creative side,” she says, after everyone has sung the Happy Birthday song, and handed around cake.

Joerg Arnold, Supervisor of the Adult Day Program at Actionmarguerite, says they run five morning and three afternoon programs per week. This allows them to accommodate 21 people in the mornings and 10 people in the afternoons.

“Each person gets a meal, be it lunch or supper, and participates in exercises, art classes, bingo or other activities,” says Arnold, adding that most people participate once per week.

Adult Day Programs like the one Kenesei attends are an important component of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s efforts to promote healthy aging, says Joanne DiNicola, Manager of Initiatives with the Region’s Long Term Care Program.

As she explains, the programs provide therapeutic and recreational activities, which work on both mental and physical fitness.

“We have 17 Adult Day Programs, with 222 spaces,” she says. As of January, there were about 860 clients attending programs across the city, which generally run from morning until afternoon. In addition to the morning/afternoon program, Actionmarguerite also runs one between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“Most participants are seniors, but we also have nine young adults taking part in a specialized program,” says DiNicola.

The chance to socialize with a group of people is one of the most important aspects for the participants, says DiNicola. Participants may be isolated from the community, in that they might be a shut-in, receiving visits only from their caregivers or home-care workers.

“This may be the one time a week people are able to get out of their apartment or house,” says DiNicola. “Especially in the winter. People are happier, their mental and physical functioning improves, and they aren’t as isolated.”

William “Robbie” Robertson’s wife originally signed him up for the ADP at Oakview Place in St. James.

“She wanted me to get away from the TV,” he says, adding he’s been going to the ADP since 2005, attending on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The friendships he’s made through the program keep him coming back for more. He also makes a point of visiting former program participants who have moved on to living in personal care homes, to keep up those friendships.

The Oakview Place Adult Day Program takes 10 participants daily, according to program co-facilitator Cheryl Taylor. Programming includes activities that encourage both physical and mental activity, such as shuffleboard or chair exercises, along with word games, board games and trivia, she says.

Along with co-ordinating activities, Taylor and co-facilitator Joan Fournier meet seniors in the community to assess whether they would be good candidates for the program. “We have to determine what a client’s mobility is like, whether they can toilet independently, if they are on medications, if they are social with others, and what kind of activities they like to do,” she says.

A side-benefit of the Adult Day Programs is the respite they afford caregivers. “If a family member is caring for their relative, they get a day off, to shop or to rest,” says DiNicola. “The Adult Day Program also provides a second level of monitoring, in that they will pick up on any mental or physical change, and can speak to the participant’s Home Care case co-ordinator.”

Specialized Adult Day Programs are available for people with dementia, respiratory concerns, and young adults with physical disabilities. There is also a program for Francophone clients, offered at Actionmarguerite on Thursdays.

Adult Day Programs often offer special programming. This might include outings to museums and travelogues, as well as the opportunity to participate in musical therapy and have education sessions on diverse topics such as astronomy, history and current events.

Participants also take part in Remembrance Day celebrations, work on Christmas cards and presents, and learn about products that help them maintain independence.

A day at ADP includes a nutritious meal, snack, and transportation. Clients must live within the catchment area to attend a particular ADP.  The cost per day is currently $8.85.

Susie Strachan is a communications specialist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Wave: November / December 2016

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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