By: Heather Yakin
Times Herald-Record as featured on recordonline.com
NEWBURGH – For seniors who are dealing with physical or cognitive decline, taking part in social give-and-take, keeping busy and involved with enriching activities can make a big difference.
For Laura Rios of Montgomery and her mother Ana Paulino, who turns 86 on Sunday, the EverCare Life Adult Social Day Care program has been a boon.
Anna Paulino, 86, and her daughter Laura Rios work on movement exercises with the virtual help of Christine Wentworth, the manager of the adult day care program at EverCare Life. The care is provided remotely via cell phone.
“It was perfect. It was full-day,” Rios said, and provided supports her mother needs.
Christine Wentworth, manager of EverCare’s social adult day care program, said the staff has worked hard during the shutdown to provide as much of the regular program as possible. Before COVID-19, the seniors started off the day at the program with a hot breakfast, followed by a day of socializing and activities: exercises to build physical strength, coordination and stability; puzzles and games and crafts, geared to each senior, to improve their social, physical and mental well-being.
“It’s a very rich program,” Wentworth said. “The aging population has a huge amount of loneliness, depression, anxiety. We want to improve all of that.”
The program had to find a way to recreate that in a virtual model, one that could work over the phone, because a lot of their adults aren’t computer savvy. So, they created their own telehealth model that combines COVID-19 screening, wellness checks, education and activities.
Since the shutdown, instead of twice-weekly visits to the day program’s Newburgh location, Paulino has twice-weekly calls. Rios said the program is working on setting up some three-way calls so seniors can talk directly to friends from the program.
Paulino has been living with Rios since the pandemic began. She’s very frail due to chronic illness, and had started becoming “very, very forgetful,” Rios said, and her mom gets excited for them.
The 25-30 minute calls make a big difference for her, Rios said.
Laura Rios, right, has been helping her mother, Anna Paulino, with virtual adult day care at their home in Montgomery.
“It keeps her occupied and interested,” Rios said. “It’s a nice little wakeup call. It gets her going in the morning. I’m there with her, so she’s comfortable.”
EverCare sends “care packages” to clients, Wentworth said, with cards, coloring books, craft activities and other materials that can be used for little games to work on cognitive ability, memory or fine motor skills. The packages also show clients that they care.
“You can’t believe the feedback that we get,” Wentworth said.
Rios said Paulino particularly likes “purse bingo,” a game where the counselor names an object and her mom searches her bag to see if she has it.
Seniors have been hardest hit in this pandemic, Wentworth said.
“Some of them have watched their friends die, watched their loved ones die,” she said. “It was really important for us to provide this invaluable service at this time when there’s so much uncertainty and fear.”