VADS to run out of funds by mid-October

Adult Day Care center in desperate need of financial help

The Recorder

PORTERVILLE, CA – The COVID-19 pandemic could force the closure of Porterville’s Valley Adult Day Services and time is running out.

There are 690,000 men and women over the age of 65 with Alzheimer’s and dementia in California. Those who provide them service sat due to the pandemic’s shelter in-place orders, there have been physical and mental setbacks in this vulnerable population.

Those who provide service add they can’t wear face coverings, they don’t understand social distancing and if they tried to take their temperature, they wouldn’t be able to do it.

They add COVID has been financially devastating and is threatening the existence of adult day care centers that help those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and make it possible for caregivers, some of whom are essential workers, to go to work. They are also allowed to do other tasks such as picking up prescriptions or simply taking a break.

“This virus has all but taken everything out from under our feet,” said Kayla Muller, Executive Director of Valley Adult Day Services (VADS) located in Porterville.

Valley Adult Day Services, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit in existence for 30 years, is the only adult day care center in Tulare County licensed by the State. The center offers participants daily activities including exercise, writing, reading and math. But the state’s strict requirements for operating the center amid the pandemic, has cut the center’s number of participants from 30 to just 10.

VADS Board of Director Chairman Richard Eckhoff said that’s hardly enough to make ends meet. “We will run out of funds by the middle of October,” said Eckhoff. Eckhoff added the center is facing a deficit of $18,000 to $20,000 a month.

Advocates stated prior to the pandemic there was already a concern over the lack of adult day services in Tulare County. Kaweah Delta Health Care District, which operates the largest acute care hospital from Bakersfield to Fresno and offers a wide variety of healthcare services in the Central Valley, along with Quail Park, which offers retirement communities and memory care in Visalia, were actively working with VADS to provide another center in Visalia.

“Adult day care services are of significant value to our community. These centers can be extremely beneficial to participants, and can often help ensure that someone can remain living at home rather than move into a residential center,” said Marc Mertz, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Kaweah Delta “They are also very helpful to family members and caregivers, who need a break from around-the-clock care and supervision.”

Advocates also state the COVID-19 pandemic has caused irreplaceable damage to Alzheimer’s patients and VAD participants. It should be noted VADS doesn’t just serve he elderly. Services are provided for anyone 18 and older.

Due to the pandemic, VADS had to close temporarily for three months. During that time participants such as Rebecca Carley had no place to go while their caregivers were at work and tending to other family tasks.

Michael Carley, Rebecca’s husband tried for weeks to manage her care while on videoconferencing calls for work and overseeing his son’s videoconferencing calls for school. She was also having trouble with balance. “It was less safe for her to be at home,” said Michael.

So, Michael, made one of the hardest decisions of his life – placing his wife in a full-time skilled nursing facility.

On May 13, Michael and his 12-year-old son drove Rebecca to the facility, with a box of her belongings and one-page introduction for the staff, a couple of family photos, and a note saying, “Rebecca loves art and beautiful things, pugs, scuba diving, Shrek, Aquaman, and Star Trek.”

On June 27, she died as a result of COVID-19.

“It’s amazing and heartbreaking,” said Michael, who after May 13 never saw his wife again in person. Rebecca tested positive for COVID on June 22, her 51st birthday.

She had a hard time adjusting, she wasn’t eating well and had lost one-third of her body weight, Michael said.

“There wasn’t COVID in the facility when she was placed, but once it got in, it was hard to prevent it from spreading,” he said.

Michael says he will remember Rebecca, not as the person she was in her final days, but as the wife, mother, musician, artist and avid scuba diver she was before COVID-19 took a hold of her. He does not blame the pandemic for her death, but chooses to focus on the value of VADS.

“They gave me another year and a half with my wife at home. Without their service I would have been faced with a decision to either quit my job or have her placed in a residential center in 2018,” he said.

Caregivers such as Michael pay less than $5 an hour for their loved one to be in day care for up to 10 hours. The fate of VADS depends on financial support, Muller said.

Muller said community support would ensure that an adult day care center remains a choice for caregivers in Tulare County.

“We work really hard to make sure that when someone comes in, we’re going to make them safe,” Muller said. “There is a financial component to this and unfortunately, we’re looking at devastating times when it comes to our client and the caregiver. We’ve been an outlet for them and we don’t know how much longer that can continue.”

Jennifer Corum, a Visalia resident and a newly appointed Valley Adult Day Services Board Member, said she can’t imagine what life would be without VADS. Her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015 at the age of 65.

“My mom was really in a desperate place when my dad was diagnosed and the day program was a light in a dark place,” she said “We were terrified and desperate. We knew we need care for him, but we didn’t know how to do that in an affordable way. This center bridges the gap for so many who are not able to put their loved one in a facility.”

Bob Patel, one of VADS biggest supporters, has organized a fundraiser at GoFundMe. The page has set a goal of raising $50,000. Those who wish to donate can go to http://www.gofundme.com/f/valley-adult-day-services

Valley Adult Day Services is located at 227 E. Oak Ave. For more information on VADS, please visit http://www.ValleyAdultDayServices.org or call 559-783-9815

Caregiving Skills

https://www.caringseniorservice.com/blog/unique-skills-to-become-a-caregiver

Caregiver 101

Caregiving 101
By Michael Plontz

A family member has just been diagnosed with an illness that will eventually require round-the-clock care. Of course you want to be the one giving that care. This decision is usually made without hesitation; of course we want to be our loved one’s caregiver. Who else could take better care of them? However, when the reality of your decision sinks in, your head will be swimming with uncertainty, anxiety, and maybe even fear. Certainly you will have many questions. Welcome to Caregiving 101, a primer for first-time caregivers.

First of all, arm yourself with knowledge. An old maxim states that “Knowledge is power,” and it’s true. Knowledge will empower you to take the best care of your loved one and yourself. Learn all that you can about your loved one’s condition, illness or disease. There are local branches of national organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the Cancer Society all over the country. Use them as a tool to find out all about your loved one’s present condition and what the future may hold for both of you.

Another reason to learn is to take better care of your loved one. You may educate yourself through health care manuals, books and videos. The Internet is also a good source of information, but navigate carefully through that material because not all of it is valid. Also, ask lots of questions of your health care professionals. They are the best people to show you proper techniques like transferring, lifting and bathing. When you learn all that you can, you will be more confident in your caregiving abilities.

Caregiving can be an isolating experience, so it’s helpful to talk to others who are, or have been, in your shoes. You will feel that you are a part of a growing community of caregivers. You may also learn about options and community resources that you were not aware of from other caregivers. These people can also help with difficult decisions concerning your loved one. Determining your responsibilities will probably be one of the first things you struggle with, so talk to others who’ve been there before.

You must remember to take regular breaks from your caregiving responsibilities. You can’t be good to someone else if you’re not good to yourself. Use your relatives. They can help in several ways—financially, socially, and as respite support. If relatives are unavailable or do not exist, try community services like a volunteer group at your local church. Try and follow these guidelines for caregiving breaks: take half-an-hour a day to practice yoga, meditation, needlepoint, reading, etc.; spend a couple of hours a week away from the house at the mall, coffeehouse, library, etc.; monthly you should have an evening out with friends, go to a play or concert, etc.; on a yearly basis you should go on a well-planned (and well-deserved) vacation. These guidelines will help in avoiding “caregiver burnout.”

Your community most likely has organizations about which you never gave a second thought until now. These may include, but are not limited to, Meals on Wheels, day care centers, and home care agencies. If applicable, contact your local Area Agency on Aging for a list of services and organizations. Your local medical supply store may have gadgets and devices to enhance your loved one’s abilities, at the same time making your life a little easier. You might also inquire about local, state or federal programs that might provide financial aid for you and your loved one. As needs increase, so do costs. Understanding which programs can help and what you can afford, will allow you to plan for the future.

One way to deal with the emotional roller coaster you may experience is to get your feelings down on paper. Some journal entries might address the following subjects: How do you feel now? What are your fears and/or concerns? What outcomes would you like? What losses have you noticed so far? What changes in your relationship with your loved one have cause you to feel sad? What changes have given you comfort? Journaling is a healthy way to put your feelings “out there” and to possibly alleviate some of the anger, frustration and helplessness you may be feeling.

Caregiving need not be a lonely and emotionally debilitating experience. According to the latest statistics on caregiving for the National Family Caregivers Association, nearly half of the U. S. population has a chronic condition. From that number 41 million are limited in their daily activities while 12 million are unable to live independently or even leave the house. One can deduce from these numbers that there are millions of family caregivers out there. So keep in mind that you are not alone, and best of luck to you and your loved one.

Adult Day Centers

Adult day centers offer people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias the opportunity to be social and to participate in activities in a safe environment.

Benefits of day centers

Adult day centers offer benefits to both caregivers and people with dementia.

If you are a full-time caregiver, adult day centers can provide a much needed break. While the person with Alzheimer’s is at the center, you’ll have time to rest, run errands or finish other tasks. If you find yourself feeling guilty, ask yourself this, “If I wear myself out to the point of total exhaustion, what good will I be to the person with dementia?”

If you are a caregiver that works during the day, an adult day center can be very helpful as you try to balance a job with caregiving duties. Hours of service vary at each center, but some are open from seven to 10 hours per day. Some also may offer weekend and evening hours, and transportation and meals are often provided.

For people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, adult day centers provide a chance to be social and to participate in staffed activities such as music and exercise programs. Keep in mind that the person with dementia will need time to adjust to the experience of going to the center. Some people may resist going at first, but they often look forward to the visit after several weeks of attending, meeting people and joining in activities.

Services

The services provided vary depending upon the center. Common types of services are listed below, as well as questions that may help you determine whether a specific day program fits your family’s needs. (Keep in mind that few adult day programs offer all of the services described, and not all of the services are necessary for a program to be of high quality.)
  • Counseling: The center may provide support services for people with dementia and their families. For example, they may offer guidance on outside resources and arrange for supportive care in the home.
  • Health services: If the person with Alzheimer’s requires medical services (i.e., insulin shots, help with medication, etc.) be sure to ask if staff provides medical assistance. Some centers also may provide blood pressure checks and physical, dental, foot, eye or ear examinations.
  • Nutrition: Does the center provide nutritious meals and snacks? Sample a meal to find out. If needed, ask if the center can accommodate a special diet or provide a culturally specific menu. Some centers also offer nutritional education programs.
  • Personal care: Centers may provide help with hairstyling, toileting, eating, showering and other personal care tasks.
  • Activities: Daily activities may include music, art, recreation, discussion and support groups. Ask what activities are offered for people with dementia.
  • Behavior management: Find out if the center is prepared to deal with behaviors associated with dementia. These many include wandering, incontinence, hallucinations, sexually inappropriate behavior or speech difficulties.
  • Therapy: Some centers help arrange for needed physical, occupational or speech therapy. They may have therapists onsite or on-call.
  • Special needs: Make sure the center can accommodate any special needs. For example, is the center equipped to deal with someone who uses a wheelchair, who is hearing or visually impaired, or who is handicapped in another way? Knowing about any service restrictions before using a center may help prevent problems.

Selecting a center

  • Learn about your options.
    Talk to your local Alzheimer’s Association about adult day centers in your area, ask other caregivers about their experiences, and call your local senior center or area agency on aging. You can also use our Community Resource Finder to find an adult day program near you.
  • Consider your needs.
    Adult day centers can vary. Consider which center offers the services that you and the person with dementia need.
  • Give the day center a chance.
    Consider using its services at least twice a week for a month before making a final decision. Occasional use won’t give you an accurate picture of how the center operates.
  • Re-evaluate care needs.
    At some point the person with Alzheimer’s may need more care than the center can provide. Center staff and support groups can help evaluate your needs for future care.