Oak Park Arms adds adult day-care program

OAK LEAVES — After a morning of bean-bag toss, wreath-making and playing “Remember When” – in which older pictures are used to spark conversation – Lorraine Schlichting knew she had made the right choice in enrolling in the Oak Park Arms’ Adult Day Care program.

Marzena M'Barek of Chicago, director of the Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care, helps Esperanza Parrish of Oak Park

Marzena M’Barek (right) of Chicago, director of the Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care, helps Esperanza Parrish of Oak Park decorate a wreath on Monday. The center provides daily activities and meals for seniors. Photo by Ryan Pagelow

“The people are very welcoming. The food is good. I can’t think of anything that’s been done that hasn’t been right,” Schlichting said.

Schlichting was one of three Oak Park Arms residents present on Monday, the first day of the Adult Day Care program at the facility. Leaders of the rental retirement community expect attendance numbers to rise as word spreads about the program. Up to 40 individuals can participate daily in the program, which requires at least a two-day-per-week commitment.

Among the activities offered in the program, which provides care from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, are educational programs, performances, arts and crafts, discussion of current events, games, reminiscing opportunities, health maintenance and presentations from experts.

“The purpose of Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care is to provide personal attention and to promote social, physical and emotional well-being to seniors in a private, structured setting,” said Moses Williams, executive director of the Oak Park Arms.

“Participants will spend their daytime hours with their day care family, then return home in the evenings.”

Jill Wagner, marketing director for the Oak Park Arms, knows many families in the area would be ideal candidates for the private-pay program.

“There is a need in the community for enrichment programs during the day for older adults,” Wagner said. “There are seniors who live with their children or in the community who need enrichment, a more structured program during the day to keep then mentally and physically active.”

Wagner said a standard day for the program includes nine hours of care. She said staff will meet and greet participants at the curb of the Oak Park Arms for individuals dropping a loved one off on the way to work. Staffers then will escort participants to the fifth-floor social club, where the program is conducted.

Cost is $65 per day. Discounts are provided to individuals signed up for at least three days per week.

Esperanza Parrish, a program participant, was a chemist with DuPont, and, along with her late husband, helped to create the synthetic polyester fabric Dacron. Because of her work history, keeping Parrish busy during the day is important, according to Pat Koko, outreach coordinator at the Oak Park Arms.

On the first day, that mission was accomplished.

“I think it has been very busy,” Parrish said with a smile.

Parrish, who has lived at the Arms for six months, told Wagner she wanted to look at more of the photos used for the “Remember When” game. Because of deteriorating vision, Parrish cannot read. But by holding photos up close, she can see the images. When doing so, she had plenty of stories to share with program peers, said Koko, who led the game aimed at generating conversation.

Koko said the day care program will be tailored to individuals’ interests.

“We ask family members what their loved one likes to do,” said Koko. “We ask what they would like to learn. If they like gardening, we will get them involved with gardening.

“We are going to work with them to stay healthy. We will do puzzles, play card games, do baking. The idea is if they sit at home staring at the walls they will disintegrate really fast. We will talk about current events and history. We will have them share with us to keep them alert.”

Koko said residents of Oak Park Arms will volunteer with the Adult Day Care program and she expects much interaction between residents and community participants as the program grows.

By Kevin Beese
Oak Leaves – Jan. 9 2013