Letter to the Editor: Adult day centers are a valuable resource for senior citizens

Iona Senior Services' Isabella Breckinridge Community Center is located at 4125 Albemarle St. NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/July 2016)

Want to insult older adults? Definitely disparage “adult day care centers.”

Earlier this month, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., tweeted: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.” His intended target may have been President Donald Trump, but the Twitter feud reached far beyond the White House. Sen. Corker’s tweet insulted all of us — especially older adults, their caregivers and the devoted professionals who work in eldercare.

For starters, Sen. Corker used an outdated term. Today we use the term adult day services. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, there are 5,500 adult day centers in the U.S. and the field is growing. We see that trend on the local level. At Iona Senior Services, we refer to the adult day program as Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center because best practices and our own experience confirm that a model focused on well-being and creativity lifts spirits, builds confidence and stimulates cognitive function. We are currently expanding our center to accommodate up to 100 more participants a year.

Adult day health services provide the best of both worlds. Older adults who need supervised care benefit from the company of peers, enriching and lively activities, and close attention from compassionate health professionals. At the same time, they are also able to return to the comforts and familiarities of their homes every evening. Meanwhile, their caregivers get to take a break and regroup, all with the knowledge that their loved one is not bored or lonely at home all day.

Caroline Scully and her father Richard, a Wellness & Arts Center participant, understand this. When Caroline picks her dad up, she finds him having a conversation with a staff member, engaged in a group activity or in art therapy. “At the end of the day, he’s energized — in contrast to when he’s home all day and tired,” she says.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan called on “every American community to consider the value of adult day care [sic] centers and to give appropriate recognition to centers offering these important services.” Three decades later, we ask our national leaders to do the same.

Sally S. White, Executive Director, Iona Senior Services