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'A very good place' for the elderly

Catholic Charities' day care centers for seniors address a growing need in South Florida

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Evelyn Pierre-Louis, a certified nursing assistant, takes Theresa Zarzycki's blood pressure, a routine practice at Catholic Charities adult daycare centers making sure their clients are healthy and in top condition. Zarzycki is a client of Central West Adult Day Care Center in Davie.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

Evelyn Pierre-Louis, a certified nursing assistant, takes Theresa Zarzycki's blood pressure, a routine practice at Catholic Charities adult daycare centers making sure their clients are healthy and in top condition. Zarzycki is a client of Central West Adult Day Care Center in Davie.

DAVIE | Three years ago, William Rojas, a parishioner at All Saints in Sunrise, faced what he considered perhaps the greatest challenge of his life when his 82-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s came from Colombia to live with him.

“When she came here, she was lost,” said Rojas. “She didn’t know how to speak English. She didn’t know how to socialize with people. I work, and she can’t be left alone by herself.”

William Rojas and his mother Ruth Vidal, 85, arrive at Davie's Centro Oeste Adult Day Care Center early. Vidal brings his mother to the center during the week while he is working. He says the center is a great help to him and to his mother. He has seen her personality blossom.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

William Rojas and his mother Ruth Vidal, 85, arrive at Davie's Centro Oeste Adult Day Care Center early. Vidal brings his mother to the center during the week while he is working. He says the center is a great help to him and to his mother. He has seen her personality blossom. "She can't be left alone," he said about his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's.

Brent Bradey walks hand in hand with his friend Delia Gonzalez, 88. He brings his friend to Centro Oeste Adult Day Care Center during the week. The center is operated by Catholic Charities. Programs at the center are for Spanish-speaking clients.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

Brent Bradey walks hand in hand with his friend Delia Gonzalez, 88. He brings his friend to Centro Oeste Adult Day Care Center during the week. The center is operated by Catholic Charities. Programs at the center are for Spanish-speaking clients. "She is more active in conversation since she has been coming the the center," said Bradey. He said that he is thankful for the Catholic Charities' outreach. "She would have to go to a home if the center was not available," he said.

Maria Soto, 94, is shown with her daughter Clara Chavarri as she arrives at Catholic Charity's Centro Oeste Adult Day Care Center in Davie. Chavarri spoke very highly of the center saying that the ministry is a big help to her family, and her mother has  has met friends and enjoys the company and the program activities that the center offers.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

Maria Soto, 94, is shown with her daughter Clara Chavarri as she arrives at Catholic Charity's Centro Oeste Adult Day Care Center in Davie. Chavarri spoke very highly of the center saying that the ministry is a big help to her family, and her mother has has met friends and enjoys the company and the program activities that the center offers. "It is a very good place. She can't be left alone. I feel like she is safe here."

Rojas was in a dilemma, but he felt called as a son to take care of his vulnerable mother, who had cared for him as a child. He wanted to keep an eye on her in his home as she adjusted to American life and as her incurable illness continued to develop. He didn’t want to place her in a nursing home among strangers, where she might become more lost and isolated.  

Rojas turned to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami for help, and the charity welcomed both him and Ruth Vidal, now celebrating her 85th birthday. “I was looking for a place where she would be safe,” he said. “I was looking for a place where she could adapt to her situation. I see a big change in her. She has gone back to talking and socializing.”

Catholic Charities Centro Oeste, where Vidal spends her days, is Broward County’s first Hispanic adult day care center, celebrating 15 years of service to the community and families. Tucked away in a small shopping mall at 6915 Stirling Road in Davie, across the street from St. Bernadette Church and School, the center offers programs in Spanish. Next door is Central West Adult Day Care Center, also directed by Catholic Charities. Wilton Manors Adult Day Care Center, located at 1503 N.E. 26 St. in Wilton Manors, is the charity’s third licensed adult day care facility.

The centers, which currently have openings, provide mental and physical stimulation for seniors, allowing them to spend time with people their own age, talk, interact and enjoy activities in a safe, nurturing environment.

Iani Carvalho is regional director of elderly services for Catholic Charities. She said that 70 percent of the centers’ clients are over the age of 80, but the centers are designed for all adults and seniors regardless of age, income or situation. Many of the clients are frail, some have cognitive challenges and others have physical restrictions and need assistance.

The three centers open at 7:30 a.m. and have certified nursing professionals on duty. They keep an eye on clients and monitor their blood pressure, weight and health conditions, making sure they take any required medications. The nurse is also there for caregivers, to answer any questions they may have about their loved one.

Breakfast, lunch and a snack are provided at the centers through the Meals on Wheels South Florida program. The menus are planned by dietitians and aimed at offering a healthy, nutritious meal. Activities are scheduled after breakfast to keep everyone active, moving and involved. The day ends with a social hour at 3 p.m. and doors close at 5 p.m.  

 

LIVELY, ACTIVE

The day the Florida Catholic visited, over 40 people were participating at Centro Oeste, and about 15 clients were at Central West next door. Both groups were lively and active. A small group of women were busy with arts and crafts, making decorations for a Mother’s Day program. A large group of men and women sat in chairs while Ivon Suarez, an activity aide, read the news headlines. Discussions followed with people chiming in with their reactions to current events. One group in a circle was busy playing cards and another group of men and women matched skills in a game of dominoes.

Thomas Towsley enjoys a game of fruit bingo, a creative spin on the classic bingo. The game is frequently played at the adult day care center in Davie operated by Catholic Charities to get clients involved and challenged.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

Thomas Towsley enjoys a game of fruit bingo, a creative spin on the classic bingo. The game is frequently played at the adult day care center in Davie operated by Catholic Charities to get clients involved and challenged.

“This is a very good place,” said Clara Chavarri as she dropped off her mother, Maria Soto, 94, at Centro Oeste. “She can’t be left alone. This center is safe. My mother has made friends. It is really a good place for her.”

The centers provide a newsletter for clients and their caregivers, educational programs and resource materials addressing any needs and services.

“We are also serving the caregivers, so they can work,” said Carvalho, referring to an important aspect of the program. The centers also provide respite care to give a break to people caring for others, a rewarding but challenging job that can lead to stress and health issues.

Sally Moore is the former executive director of a national non-profit, Caregivers’ Anchor of Hope, who currently resides in Palm Beach County. She is a former caregiver who provided care for her mother and her husband, both afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

“It is a 24-hour job,” she said. “Some caregivers have little support from family and friends, and they become hopeless.”

“Sometimes we see them struggling,” said Carvalho. “We provide the caregiver with a lot of guidance and the information that they need.”

 

40 MILLION

According to statistics provided by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 40 million Americans provide unpaid help to loved ones. These numbers are expected to increase in coming years. The association also reports that 10,000 people a day turn 65.

Catholic Charities first brought day care for seniors to Broward in 1975, developing a unique model to support clients and their caregivers.

Brent Brady cares for his best friend, Delia Gonzalez, 88, a native of Puerto Rico. He found Centro Oeste three years ago. “If this program did not exist, I would not be able to provide for her, and I would have to put her in a home,” he said. “I work. The people here take good care of the seniors. It is a really a good program.”

FIND OUT MORE
  • For information about Catholic Charities adult day care centers, which are funded by grants from federal and local county agencies, contact Iani Carvalho, regional director, Elderly Services of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, at 786-506-1775 or visit www.ccadm.org.

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