Adult day center needs your voice

When asked about her favorite activity at the Northshore Adult Day Center, Marianne Jones replies, “The people and the food!”

When asked about her favorite activity at the Northshore Adult Day Center, Marianne Jones replies, “The people and the food!”

“I’m also exercising my arms,” Marianne says, as she speaks of the center’s Nustep fitness equipment that strengthens arms and legs.

Marianne is 106 years old and has been coming to the Adult Day Center for six years. She arrived at the center wheelchair-bound, and with the guidance of dedicated staff, graduated to using a walker.

She also jokes how she gets out of bed in the morning, pulling herself up on the securely fastened pole next to her bed: “Like the pole dancers,” she says.

Marianne is one of approximately 45 people, from age 23 onward, who rely on the friendships, services and activities at the center.

“The center began as a program for frail seniors,” says Judi Pirone, adult day health manager, adding, “Now, the program has expanded to include developmentally disabled young people, as well.”

I felt welcomed and at home meeting the caring staff. Even a calm, soothing dog, greeted people in the foyer, adding to the homey atmosphere. The day begins with a gathering of participants for coffee and a morning snack before moving on to the large activity room with piano, the resource library and a sunroom of games and puzzles where they can increase fine motor skills.

What looked like fun is Tootsie’s Parlor, where foot care and massages take place and where one can have their hair styled from the professionals.

The center also consists of a conference room, meditation area, a health room staffed by nurses and the hub for transportation.

Transportation coordinates 10 vans a day, eight which serve the Northshore area. Respectful, caring drivers transport people from their doorstep to the facility. They assess who is in need of extra help that day, and even check on the home caregiver.

With this perfectly painted picture of nurturing and activities, what could possibly be the problem?

The Department of Social and Health Services made a deal with the Center for Medicaid/Medicare to remove adult day services from the state plan of mandated Medicaid services, effective June 30, 2009.

In other words, Northshore adult day Services is in the fight of their lives to convince Gov. Gregoire not to cut funding for this needed service. All Washington state adult day Services will be affected.

For now, Pirone, Northshore representatives and Washington adult day service reps are meeting several times in Olympia, vigorously stating their case to maintain funding.

As Judi says, “Our place is bright and uplifting.”

She can’t imagine anyone being turned away to possibly face hospitalization or institutionalization. She also wants to keep her staff together, which has been like family for the past 10 years.

As for Marianne?

“I’m looking forward to the new president,” she says.

Marianne, with the help of her daughter, Dianne Moore, will be writing a letter to the new President Obama to remind him of the importance and positive outcome of adult day services for folks like herself.

To help, call (800) 562-6000 to let legislators know how important funding is for adult day services. Or, contact Gov. Gregoire’s office at (360) 902-4111.