Earlier this month, an important program reopened its doors in Glen Cove. Though the Glen Cove Senior Center’s Social Model Adult Day Program, like many others, has been operating remotely since last spring, the in-person connection and support it provides to members is part of what makes it so valuable.
“On any weekday morning, when most of the world is moving about their business, older adults with cognitive impairment and/or physical challenges and their loved ones are often facing a day of mixed emotions,” activities coordinator Melanie Raymundo said. “[The program] is the highlight of the Senior Center’s continuum of care and a program that has been around as long as the Senior Center itself, extending support to hundreds of community residents over the years who are all adjusting to what it sometimes means to grow older – searching, despite the challenges, for a way to continue to thrive.”
The Adult Day Program serves community members with dementia by offering a variety of stimulating activities, including arts and crafts, music, games, discussion groups, and exercise, at levels suited to participants’ abilities, and it has grown over the years. Initially, Raymundo said, the goal was to provide quality care, nourishment and enriching interaction, while also recognizing the need for caregivers to have a little break and access to support groups and resources
“The program flourished as activities focused on strengths rather than limitations of both the participant and their caregiver,” Raymundo said.
Under the direction of Lisa Craig and Raymundo, the general understanding of dementia and other chronic conditions deepened and the staff’s ability to best serve those with these conditions matured, Raymundo said. Programs became more diverse as exercise classes included tai chi to improve balance, focus and concentration and movement therapy that incorporated imagination and dancing to the music of local musicians. Groups like the Girl Scouts and students from nearby youth programs and schools who used to stop in and share an occasional intergenerational activity were now visiting regularly and forming real relationships with participants. Guest speakers in and around the area and experts in specialized fields were recruited to share their careers, their passions and their hobbies as they related to participants’ interests. The program, which always sought to bring in specialists, now partnered with universities to provide art and physical therapy, and nursing programs and cooking experts to encourage good nutrition. Trips to local parks and restaurants now included excursions to museums and movies outside of the community specifically designed to meet the needs of their group.
“The Adult Day Program was no longer a silo, tucked away from the community, but a part of it,” Raymundo said, “and exploring new neighborhoods and cultural experiences beyond it, experiences that focused on memory building and sensory stimulation.”
Raymundo said that she and Craig would plan a theme for the day based on either current events or group discussions, and that they also encouraged their recreation leaders to be sensitive and flexible, adjusting to whatever circumstances brought to bear in an effort to make each day the best it could be for everyone.
The Adult Day Program is funded through federal, state, county, city and SAGE Foundation support, as well as participant contributions.
“For many who would otherwise be homebound, this program is a lifesaver, providing reasons to wake up and smile, adventures to look forward to, always a celebration of life and the chance to have something to share with family and friends at the end of each day,” Raymundo said. “And if times should become difficult as is sometimes the case or decline, inevitable, there is always someone close by to help navigate the journey.”
When the program was forced to close to in-person activities last March, its directors, like others, learned to pivot to a virtual program that has been beneficial to members. Raymundo called it “Enchanted Engagements” and said that families were “amazed” at the turnaround in their loved ones that the online program had provided.
For the first six weeks or so after the Senior Center closed, Executive Director Christine Rice said, “the decline was immense” in members with cognitive and physical frailties. Once Raymundo began to provide virtual programs on Zoom, “you could see the connections happening again.”
“This program is so unbelievably important for the seniors in this community who are battling this disease, and their caregivers who are traveling this journey with them, which is a 24/7 job,” Rice said. Melanie has done a stellar job keeping these individuals connected, and not having them go to a nursing home or assisted living facility, which they did not want to have to go to during Covid. Were able to keep them at home and let their loved ones have some form of respite.”
Rice said there are about 10 families currently utilizing the program, though it is able to take on more, both in-person and virtually.
Hosted by Raymundo and colleague Carlos De Cespedes and available to the community Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the virtual program has hosted “show and tells,” poetry-writing, dramatic readings and lively discussions.
When the Glen Cove Adult Day Program re-opened its doors, Raymundo said she was not willing to abandon those that were only able to join online. As a result, she devised a way of broadcasting the “Enchanted Engagements” online program simultaneously with the in-person program.
Craig, the program’s director, retired in January after 16 years, and Amanda Freeman was hired as director of the Adult Day Program, effective April 28. Her appointment was approved unanimously by the Glen Cove City Council on April 13.
“I think she’s going to do a great job for our program,” Rice said.
For more information on the Adult Day Program, contact Raymundo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 516 759 2345.