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  • Help us celebrate 35th anniversary of MultiCare Adult Day Health

    Everyone is welcome to help us celebrate MultiCare Adult Day Health’s 35th Anniversary! The party, silent auction and 3rd Annual Showcase Performance is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (formerly the South Park Community Center) at 4851 South Tacoma Way in Tacoma.

    Past employees of Adult Day Health are encouraged to attend so they can be honored for their contributions to the program’s 35-year history. No RSVP is required. Questions? Call 253-459-7222.

    'The happiest place on Earth'

    The staff at MultiCare’s Adult Day Health Center in Tacoma frequently refers to the facility as the happiest place on Earth - and it’s easy to see why.

    On a recent morning the center’s Activities Coordinator Colleen Schmidt manned a microphone, leading the room in a chorus of Happy Birthday. In an adjoining room, a handful of the center’s participants giggled as they scooped chocolate chip cookie dough onto baking sheets. People greeted each other in the hallways. There were lots of hugs and even more laughs.

    “It really is a great place,” Schmidt said. “I learn so much from the people here – they really help you get a sense of perspective about life and what’s important.”

    The Adult Day Health Center, which is celebrating its 35th year, serves adults with physical and cognitive challenges resulting from disease, injury or developmental disability. Its participants have a range of diagnoses including Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and seizure disorders.

    Keeping people independent

    The center provides medical help, emotional support and a social outlet for its participants, as well as some respite for their full-time caretakers. It’s one of only a few facilities of its kind in Pierce and Thurston counties.

    The participants are a mix of seniors and middle-aged adults with disabilities. Some still live alone, while others live with relatives or spouses. The services the center offers as part of its daily programs – from medical monitoring by on-site nurses to exercise time -- help the participants maintain their independence. There’s even transportation provided by Pierce Transit to shuttle people to and from the facility.

    “We want to keep people in their homes as long as possible,” says Jane Hanson, the center’s supervisor.

    Ann Wright is testament to that mission. At 92, she’s been visiting the Adult Day Health center for 14 years. She lives alone and looks forward to the center’s social activities. Wright read her favorite memories of the center from a two-page list – laughing about the time one of the staff members dressed up as a giant chicken for Halloween and crying as she recalled many of the friends she’s made.

    “I love the people,” she said, looking at Hanson with tears in her eyes.

    “We do get attached to each other,” Hanson replied.

    A place for fun – and more

    From the first day Lisa Semon visited the day health center, she had a good feeling about the place. Her twice weekly visits provide her husband with some respite and give Semon, who is 57 and partially blind, an opportunity to socialize.

    “I’m made some really great friends here,” she said.

    For Rudy Ascuncion, 77, the center offered a convenient way for him to continue his occupational therapy after he suffered a stroke nine years ago. Once a professional cook on a ship, he lives with his wife and still whips up meals.

    “My mind wasn’t affected very much by the stroke, but I lost feeling in my left arm and leg,” Ascuncion said. He uses a cane or wheelchair to get around. He visits the adult day health center twice a week, attending his therapy sessions before heading off to bingo or zumba.

    “I call this one bartending,” Ascuncion joked, wincing as he demonstrated an exercise that involves picking up and putting down cups with his left hand.

    A break for caretakers

    In addition to benefitting its participants, the adult day health center also supports their caretakers by providing them with regular and much-needed breaks. The center also recently started a support group – open to the public – for people caring for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

    “We want to prevent caregiver burnout,” says Curtis Adamczewski, the center’s social worker. “Places like this are big support for helping people keep their loved ones in their home.”

    And while the adult day center provides all kinds of important services for its participants, the daily doses of joy it serves up are equally as vital. The facility buzzed with excitement that Thursday as the participants readied for that afternoon’s bingo game, a favorite activity thanks to the donated prizes. A table full of seniors joked with other as they played dice. In every room, people smiled.

    “I love adult day health,” Hanson said. “Because I feel like every day I come to work I’ve made a difference in their lives of these people.”

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    Posted on Nov 6, 2012 in Tacoma